Childhood cancer may lead to long-term health issues says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Childhood cancer survivors may face long-term health problems in later life, a new US study has suggested.

The research group, based at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that survivors of childhood cancer were more than three times as likely to face health problems in later life compared to other children.

They were also eight times more likely to go on to develop a severe or life-threatening condition. The study followed 10,000 cancer survivors and 3,000 of their siblings.

The participants, all of whom are now adults, were initially diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 1986.

UK researchers said the results were important, but pointed out that modern treatments have fewer long-term risks compared with those used during the study period.

"This study represents an important contribution to our understanding of the long-term effects of treatment of childhood cancer," said Dr Bruce Morland of the UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group, which is supported by Cancer Research UK.

"However, we are now more familiar with these risks, and specialists involved in the care of children with cancer are as determined to reduce the long-term effects of treatment as they are to further improving survival.

Dr Morland backed a call by the researchers for greater medical assistance and supervision of childhood cancer survivors to minimise long-term health problems.

In the UK, the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group is committed to researching and planning long-term care for survivors of childhood cancer.

The issue has grown in importance as more childhood cancer patients are being cured of their disease.

Children diagnosed with cancer during the study period had a 50 per cent chance of surviving their disease compared to 76 per cent today.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Visit the UKCLG website for information about childhood cancer