Child cancer survivors face increased cancer risk later in life

In collaboration with the Press Association

People who survived cancer during childhood continue to have a slightly higher risk of developing cancer throughout their lifetime, a Danish study has found.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen studied data on 47,697 people in the Nordic countries between 1943 and 2005, all of whom had been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20 years.

They looked to see whether any of the people involved in the study had developed subsequent new cancers and compared the incidence rate for this group against the national incidence rate.

They found that the proportion of childhood cancer survivors who developed new primary cancers was higher than expected across all age groups.

Analysis also revealed that male survivors were more likely to develop second primary cancers than female survivors.

Dr Jorgen Olsen's team have published their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and wrote: "The results may be useful in the screening and care of these individuals."

Ed Yong, Cancer Research UK's health information manager, commented: "More and more children are surviving an early fight against cancer and this study suggests that they still have a slightly higher risk of different cancers later on in life.

"Even so, when a child is diagnosed with cancer, the priority must be to save life. Thanks to research, over the past few decades we have seen tremendous improvements in the treatment of childhood cancer.

"In the 60s, only a quarter of children who were diagnosed with cancer survived for more than five years; now, around three quarters survive."