Survivors of Childhood Cancer Face Continuing Chronic Health Conditions — Physician’s First Watch
Survivors of Childhood Cancer Face Continuing Chronic Health Conditions
By Joe Elia
Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH
The increasing success in treating childhood cancers can overlook a continuing burden for survivors: chronic health conditions that arise at least into survivors' middle-age years.
Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital retrospectively studied some 5500 adults who had survived childhood cancer at least 10 years earlier. They estimated that by age 50, cancer survivors experience almost twice the number of chronic health conditions as do community controls (17 vs. 9 conditions). Disorders common to both cancer survivors and controls included arrhythmias and structural heart defects, whereas spinal disorders and pulmonary function disorders were common only among survivors.
Commentators in The Lancet argue that these estimates may be flawed by changes in therapy over the recent past. They note, however, that the study "emphasizes the complexity of late effects after survival of childhood cancer, as well as the importance of active clinical management."