Thursday, 2 April 2015

More Americans Survive Childhood Cancers, But Health Problems Persist


Malignancies and treatments can take toll on quality of life in adulthood, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

WEDNESDAY, April 1, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- More Americans are surviving childhood cancers than ever before, but many suffer lingering health problems as adults, a new study finds.

About 70 percent of adults who survived cancer in childhood have a mild or moderate chronic condition. And nearly one-third have a severe, disabling or life-threatening condition, the researchers found.

"The fact that many of the indicators of the chronic conditions we examined increased with age was not altogether surprising. However, when you look at the age of these survivors, the magnitude of these conditions at relatively young ages is quite striking," said lead researcher Siobhan Phillips, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Typically, these health conditions wouldn't be expected to be a problem until people are much older, Phillips said. "Therefore, it is important to understand how we can help prevent and lower the risk of chronic conditions and compromised functioning in this population," she added.

For the study, Phillips and her colleagues used information collected between 1975 and 2011 from two large cancer studies that included 26 cancer centers in North America.

Almost 389,000 survivors of childhood cancer are living in the United States today, according to Phillips. "This is an increase of 59,849 from the previous estimate made in 2005," she said.

Of these survivors, about 84 percent had survived five or more years after diagnosis, Phillips said.

"An estimated 35 percent of the survivors, ages 20 to 49, had thinking or developmental problems, and about 13 to 17 percent of those in this age group had functional impairment, activity limitations, impaired mental health, pain, or anxiety and fear," she said.

According to the study, the most common cancers children develop are various types of leukemia followed by brain tumors and kidney cancer.

Dr. Ziad Khatib, a pediatric oncologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, said the mental and physical problems these adult patients are experiencing are a result of either the cancer itself or the chemotherapy and radiation that were used to treat it.

source : More Americans Survive Childhood Cancers, But Health Problems Persist

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