-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Adult survivors of
childhood cancer are more likely to develop serious health problems
than their siblings, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at data from thousands of American adults who
were age 20 or younger when they were diagnosed with cancer between
1970 and 1986. As the cancer survivors aged, the health gap between
them and their siblings grew larger.
Between ages 20 and 34, childhood cancer survivors were 3.8
times more likely than their siblings of the same age range to have
severe, disabling or deadly health problems. At 35 and older, the
survivors had a five times higher risk than their siblings, the
study authors found.
By age 50, more than half of the survivors had suffered a
life-changing health issue, compared to less than 20 percent of
their same-aged siblings, the findings showed. Also by that age,
more than one in five of the survivors had at least two serious
health conditions, and 10 percent had three or more.
The health problems included new cancers and diseases of the
heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and hormones, according to the study,
published in the March 17 issue of the
Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"Survivors remain at risk for serious health problems into their 40s and 50s, decades after they have completed treatment for childhood cancer. In fact, for survivors, the risk of illness and death increases significantly beyond the age of 35," said Dr. Gregory Armstrong, an associate member of the department of epidemiology and cancer control at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"Their siblings don't share these same risks," said Armstrong, the study's first and corresponding author, in a hospital news release.
He said the findings show the importance of lifelong follow-up
care for childhood cancer survivors. Depending on the treatment
they received for their childhood cancer and other risk factors,
follow-up care may include receiving cancer screenings and other
health checks at a younger age than people in the general
The American Society of Clinical Oncology explains the
late effects of childhood cancer.
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