Adults formerly treated for childhood cancer have chronic health problems

Published on June 14, 2013 at 8:57 AM · No Comments

In an analysis that included more than 1,700 adult survivors of childhood cancer, researchers found a very high percentage of survivors with 1 or more chronic health conditions, with an estimated cumulative prevalence of any chronic health condition of 95 percent at age 45 years, according to a study in the June 12 issue of JAMA.

"Curative therapy for pediatric malignancies has produced a growing population of adults formerly treAdults formerly treated for childhood cancer have chronic health problems ated for childhood cancer who are at risk for health problems that appear to increase with aging. The prevalence of cancer-related toxic effects that are systematically ascertained through formal clinical assessments has not been well studied. Ongoing clinical evaluation of well-characterized cohorts is important to advance knowledge about the influence of aging on cancer-related morbidity and mortality and to guide the development of health screening recommendations and health-preserving interventions," according to background information in the article.

Melissa M. Hudson, M.D., of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, and colleagues conducted a study to determine, through systematic comprehensive medical assessment, the general health status of long-term survivors of childhood cancer and the prevalence of treatment complications following predisposing cancer treatment-related exposures. The presence of health outcomes was ascertained using systematic exposure-based medical assessments among 1,713 adult (median [midpoint] age, 32 years) survivors of childhood cancer (median time from diagnosis, 25 years) enrolled in the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study since October 1, 2007, and undergoing follow-up through October 31, 2012. The participants were diagnosed and treated between 1962 and 2001. The primary measured outcomes were the age-specific cumulative prevalence of adverse outcomes by organ system.

The researchers found that impaired pulmonary, auditory, cardiac, endocrine, and nervous system function were most prevalent (detected in 20 percent or more of participants at risk). The crude prevalence of adverse health outcomes was highest for pulmonary (abnormal pulmonary function, 65.2 percent), auditory (hearing loss, 62.1 percent) endocrine or reproductive (any endocrine condition, such as hypothalamic-pituitary axis disorders and male germ cell dysfunction, 62.0 percent), cardiac (any cardiac condition, such as heart valve disorders, 56.4 percent), and neurocognitive (neurocognitive impairment, 48.0 percent) function.

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