Childhood cancer survivors live longer but may suffer chronic illnesses

A research to analyze quality of life for childhood cancer survivors concluded that though treatment for childhood cancers is possible and a child with cancer get many more years to live, the patient usually develop a health which is proportionate to the health of a 40 year old. Consequently, childhood cancers survivors remain prone to chronic health issues throughout their life time.

The research was conducted by researchers from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Lisa Diller and her colleagues collected data on 18-to-49-year-olds who participated in the national Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. From data, they found that cancer survivors were at a great risk to develop heart disease, infertility, lung disease, and other cancers due to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

As per findings, only 20% of childhood cancer survivors reported no chronic conditions. The researchers made use of scores to define quality of life. The scores were assigned to patients on the basis of quality of life they spent. The score 1 meant perfect health, while 0 meant death. A life score of 0.78 was given to survivors between the ages of 18 and 29. Their score was equivalent to scores reported by in the general population of 40-to-49-year-olds.

Survivors with no chronic health conditions had an average score of 0.81, whereas an average score of 0.77 was given to those with at least two conditions. Survivors with three or more chronic condition were given a score of 0.70.

“This research provides an easily accessible way to compare adult survivors of childhood cancer to the general population, in terms of their health-related quality of life, which normally declines as people age,” said Diller, the study’s senior author.

A report published in UPI revealed, “The researchers studied data on thousands of childhood cancer survivors in the United States. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, overall health-related quality-of-life scores were similar to those of adults in the general population in their 40s, the investigators found.”

Previous research has shown that childhood cancer survivors are at increased risk for heart disease, lung disease, infertility, cancers and other chronic conditions. These are mainly associated with treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, the study authors noted.

“esearchers from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health examined the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors and found that most young patients have the health of a 40-year-old,” according to a news report published by MedicalDaily.

“Our findings indicate survivors’ accelerated aging and also help us understand the health-related risks associated with having had cancer as a child,” Diller explained. “What’s encouraging is that the lower quality of life scores are associated with chronic disease after treatment, not with a history of pediatric cancer itself. If we can prevent treatment-related conditions by changes in the therapy we use for the cancer, then childhood cancer will become an acute, rather than a chronic, illness.”

According to a report in PulseHeadlines by Camilo Pacheco, “Health-related quality of life among young adult survivors of childhood cancer is similar to that of adults in the general population who are ten years older, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) published Friday, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”

The main factor to determine the well-being sense among people is the presence or lack of chronic health conditions. Research demonstrates that childhood cancer survivors are more likely to develop heart disease, infertility, lung disease, cancers and other manifestations related to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

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