A Lifelong Fight

Survivors of childhood cancer
have higher risks for diseases
as adults; © NCI Visuals Online

Today´s survival rate of children are a major improvement over survival chances for children diagnosed 20 and 30 years ago. But survivors of childhood cancer may face long-term health problems well into adulthood, as reported in a large multicenter study of over 10,000 adults who survived a childhood battle with cancer.

In comparing more than 10,000 adult survivors of paediatric cancer to approximately 3,000 of their siblings, the researchers found survivors to be more than three times as likely to have chronic health condition, and more than eight times as likely to have a severe or life-threatening condition. The incidence of these chronic conditions increased over time and did not appear to level off over the time span that was studied.

The long-term survivors, first diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 1986, were particularly vulnerable to second cancers, heart conditions, kidney disease, severe musculoskeletal problems and endocrine abnormalities such as thyroid disease, osteoporosis and sterility. Female survivors were at higher risk than male survivors for chronic illnesses.

One implication of the current study, said Anna T. Meadows, M.D.from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is the need for continued medical surveillance of adult survivors of childhood cancer. “Fewer than 20 percent of these patients are followed by an oncologist or at a cancer centre, but they clearly have special medical needs and higher risks,” she added. There are currently 270,000 survivors of paediatric cancer in the U.S.

MEDICA.de; Source: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia