Although medical advances have saved the lives of many patients over the past thirty years, recent research suggests that childhood cancer survivors run into other lasting health problems later in life.
Based on the latest survey, adults who had cancer during their childhood were not in such a good shape compared to other cancer survivors treated more recently. Scientists found that these former patients had both mental and physical health problems, although they had been cancer-free for many years.
The study’s statistics revealed that children treated in the 1990s had an elevated risk of developing anxiety and other health issues, whereas the adults who were treated as kids in the 1970s were doing much better.
The officials from the United States National Cancer Institute underline that over eighty percent of the kids living with a form of cancer survive for minimum 5 years after the diagnosis has been given. Also, the cancer mortality rate is much lower nowadays, and the side-effects produced by cancer treatments have been significantly reduced.
More precisely, thanks to the proton therapy, massive radiation damage is no longer an issue, whereas limb-sparing surgery is regarded as the most reliable alternative to amputation.
Nevertheless, researchers were surprised to find out that many of those patients reported a poor life quality due to long-term consequences caused by the treatment.
Kirsten Ness, the study author and a physical therapist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said that ‘we were sort of expecting that they wouldn’t have as many problems with their perceived health as survivors who were treated in earlier generations.’
Public health officials are determined to offer the best medical assistance to help these former patients. There are roughly 15.5 million childhood cancer survivors across the country. By reviewing the data between 1970 and 1999, scientists tried to establish why those patients experienced long lasting health issues.
Over 14,500 childhood cancer survivors with ages between 18 and 48 were treated during the study when they were children. Based on the patients’ personal reports, most of them reported cancer-related pain or anxiety.
Researchers believe that the pain might have been caused by the side-effects of the limb-sparing surgery, while anxiety is mostly present among childhood cancer survivors who are now teenagers. Ness underlined that she and her team would continue their investigation into other possible causes such as poor diets and lack of physical exercise.
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