Illness risk for cancer survivors

Children who survive cancer are more likely to be chronically ill in later life
Children who survive cancer are more likely to be chronically ill in later life

Patients who survive cancer in childhood are at greatly increased risk of developing chronic health problems in later life, according to a large US study.  

It showed they were more likely to develop second cancers, cardiovascular disease and severe musculoskeletal problems than other adults.  

The study included 10,397 patients aged 18 to 48 who were diagnosed with childhood cancer between 1970 and 1986, and 3,034 of their siblings.  

The researchers compared the frequency of chronic conditions in the cancer survivor group with the sibling group.  

At an average age of 26 years, the cancer survivors were 3.3 times as likely as their siblings to have a chronic health problem, and more than eight times as likely to have a life-threatening condition.  

Over 62 per cent of the cancer survivors reported at least one chronic illness, with nearly 28 per cent reporting a life-threatening or disabling condition.  

They were 54 times as likely as their sibling to have had a major joint replacement, 15 times as likely to have congestive heart failure or a second malignant neoplasm and more than 10 times as likely to suffer severe cognitive dysfunction or CHD.  

The researchers concluded that continuing care for childhood cancer patients needed to be improved. They should be monitored for second cancers and coronary artery disease. 

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