Years Later, Big Problems for Kids Who Kicked Cancer
By age 45, 95% have chronic condition
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2013 6:53 AM CDT
The study of more than 1,700 adults at least 10 years past diagnosis found that by age 45, more than 95% suffered from a chronic condition.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

(Newser) – We all face health problems as we age, but a new study finds an "extraordinarily high" rate of chronic health issues among childhood cancer survivors—many of whom were unaware of their condition. The study of more than 1,700 adults at least 10 years past diagnosis found that by age 45, more than 95% suffered from a chronic condition tied to either the cancer itself or the treatment they received for that cancer, the Wall Street Journal reports. Worse still, 80% of those conditions could be labeled serious, disabling, or life-threatening. Specifically:

  • Of those whose treatment was associated with risks to the pulmonary system, 65% had lung problems.
  • Of those whose treatment was cardiotoxic, 56.4% had heart problems. For example, those who got chest radiation often had scarred or leaky heart valves.
  • Those who got brain radiation had mild cognitive deficits much more typical of older people. (Participants in the study were aged 18 to 60, but the average age was 33.) Time reports that 61% had endocrine problems in the brain and 48% had memory problems.
  • Bloomberg reports that 62% of participants had hearing loss, the second-most prevalent issue after lung problems. Reproductive disorders were also common.
Even more concerning: Many of the conditions had not been diagnosed prior to the study. One 44-year-old participant, who received radiation at age 16, has a healthy lifestyle (including biking 120 miles a week) and had no idea until the study was done that he needed bypass surgery. "Doctors may not be thinking about a heart-valve disorder in someone in his 30s, but if you had radiation to your chest at 10, this is something to think about," says one of the study authors.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
Chatsworth
Jun 12, 2013 5:12 PM CDT
The fact that these folks survived cancer is actually very good,But, apparently, one must take the bad with the good, side effects of treatments.Of course, there was no alternative to treatment except death from cancer,so it's one of those rock and a hard place issues.
Winston_Smith
Jun 12, 2013 3:07 PM CDT
"Even more concerning: Many of the conditions had not been diagnosed prior to the study." This is the legacy of our horribly haphazard health system of the 20th century. I have a number of different health conditions, for which I have seen many different doctors over the years, and it is only rarely that my new doctors have a clue as to what my old doctors knew and were thinking, or even had access to the tests that they ran. The problem is slooooooowly being addressed by new technologies; supposedly Obamacare is trying to force clinics and hospitals to follow standards of tracking information and to communicate with each other better. We'll see.
crankydude
Jun 12, 2013 10:24 AM CDT
Don't look now but there is a choice between procreating and not procreating. In the latter the child is eternally perfect in every way; never has a pain nor a fear nor a worry; never grows old. Ah, but life itself is just such an indisputable blessing, so forget what I said. Silly me.