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Chronic Illness Afflicts Most Childhood-Cancer Survivors, Study Finds

Chronic Illness Afflicts Most Childhood-Cancer Survivors, Study Finds

06/11/13

TUESDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly all adult survivors of childhood cancer have at least one chronic health problem, according to a new study.

Many of these health conditions are believed to be linked to treatments used to combat the survivors' childhood cancer, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Researchers examined data from more than 1,700 adults who were diagnosed with childhood cancer between 1962 and 2001 and underwent health assessments between 2007 and 2012. The analysis revealed that 98 percent of the patients had a chronic health condition.

About 95 percent of the patients had a chronic health problem by age 45, or 35 years after cancer diagnosis. More than three-quarters had a serious, disabling or life-threatening condition at age 45.

The most common problems involved the lungs (65 percent), hearing (62 percent), endocrine or reproductive systems (62 percent), heart (56 percent) or declining mental ability (48 percent).

Liver, skeletal, kidney and blood problems were less common, according to the study, which was published in the June 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The percentage of survivors with one or more chronic health conditions prevalent in a young-adult population was extraordinarily high," Dr. Melissa Hudson, of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, said in a hospital news release.

The researchers said their findings highlight the need to monitor childhood cancer survivors for conditions that can cause significant illness if not detected and treated early -- such as second cancers and heart disease -- as well as conditions that can be treated to improve quality of life, such as hearing and vision problems.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the late effects of childhood cancer treatment.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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