© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
May 16, 2005A report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) shows that adult survivors of childhood cancer have five times the risk of developing moderate to severe health problems compared with their healthy siblings.Severe health problems include second cancers, heart disease, kidney transplant or the need for dialysis, mental retardation, and paralysis of an arm or leg. Moderate health problems due to the long-term effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy include lung scarring requiring oxygen therapy, congestive heart failure, a blood clot in the head or lungs, cirrhosis of the liver, ovarian or testicular failure, and becoming legally blind or losing an eye.In this study, doctors looked at how often moderate and severe chronic health problems happened in two groups: 10,397 adults who were diagnosed with a childhood cancer between 1970 and 1986, and 3,034 of their siblings. The average age of the survivors when they were diagnosed was nearly 10 years. At the time of the study, the survivors were ages 18 to 48.By age 45, 57.1% of the survivors and 18.2% of the siblings had a moderate health problem, and 37.4% of the survivors and 4.6% of the siblings had a severe health problem. The risk of having either a moderate or severe health problem was five times greater for the survivors."This study provides the first estimate of how often physical health problems occur in childhood cancer survivors as they become adults," said Kevin C. Oeffinger, MD, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and lead author of the study. "Most survivors will have future health problems related to their previous cancer therapy, which are likely to increase as they reach their 30s and 40s."What this means for survivorsSurvivors of childhood cancer are encouraged to talk to their doctors about making plans to screen for future health problems and to discuss ways to reduce potential risks to their health. In addition, keeping detailed information about their personal and family medical histories, the doses and types of cancer treatments they received, other health conditions, and lifestyle habits (such as smoking) can help doctors assess the possibility of future health problems.