Helping Childhood Cancer Survivors

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The (relatively) good news: With today’s treatments, children who get cancer are surviving longer then ever before. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from about 58% in 1975–77 to 80% in 1996–2003.

The bad news: Many childhood cancer survivors face a variety of health problems throughout their lives.

A new analysis of childhood cancer survivors highlights the medical problems and other health challenges these children face as adults. The study is published in the current issue of Cancer; you can read the abstract here.

In the study, researchers drew upon data from a National Health Interview Survey that included 410 adult survivors of childhood cancer and almost 300,000 people without cancer. The study found that childhood survivors were more likely than other adults to say their health is only fair or poor (24% compared to 11%), more likely to be unable to work because of medical problems (21% compared to 6%) and more likely to be limited by their health in terms of the work they could do (31% compared to 11%).

Lately, there’s been a lot of work investigating how lifestyle choices can play a role in helping childhood cancer survivors. One study, funded by AICR, is looking at how certain foods may influence the effect of common treatment for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Other studies are looking at the benefits of physical activity, both during and after treatment.

To learn more about the research in this field, read ScienceNow’s Childhood Cancer Survivors: Healthy Living.

And for more information on childhood cancer, visit NCI.

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Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

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