Childhood Cancer Survivors Have Higher Odds of Shortened Life Span

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Childhood cancer survivors continue to face higher odds for serious health issues throughout their life. These include higher odds of developing a secondary cancer, having chronic conditions often related to the cancer treatment, and increased risk of cardiac and pulmonary complications. Added to all that, or maybe due to all of those risk, childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of early death.

Yeh and colleagues published the results of their research in the April 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers simulated the lifetime course of 15-year-old childhood cancer survivors who were at least five years past treatment of their cancer.

The computer model looked at the average lifetime probability of dying of the original cancer or treatment-related subsequent cancer and cardiac, pulmonary, and other complications. Their computer model revealed childhood cancer survivors life span is on average shortened by 10 years.

Reduction in life span relative to the general population ranged from 4 years for kidney tumor survivors to more than 17 years for brain and bone tumor survivors.

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This shortened life expectancy could be the result of cancer treatments with long-term toxicity that were used in previous decades, the researchers noted.

When caring for childhood cancer survivors, doctors should consider past cancer treatments and their long-term effects, according to the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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Survivors of Childhood Cancers at Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Checking for Breast Cancer in Childhood Cancer Survivors
Childhood Brain Tumors Survivors Left with Life-long Impairments

Sources
A Model-Based Estimate of Cumulative Excess Mortality in Survivors of Childhood Cancer; Ann Intern Med April 6, 2010 152:409-417; Jennifer M. Yeh, Larissa Nekhlyudov, Sue J. Goldie, Ann C. Mertens, Lisa Diller

U.S. National Cancer Institute

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