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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Treating childhood cancer survivors years later

Nearly 12 million cancer survivors are alive in the United States, at least 328,000 of whom were originally diagnosed when they were under the age of 21.1 With advances in cancer treatment extending the life of these individuals at least five years past their diagnosis, interest in the long-term medical treatment of these childhood cancer survivors has grown.

Below is a list of long-term complications/concerns for this patient subset:

  • Basal cell carcinoma;
  • Fractures;
  • Neuroblastoma;
  • Ovarian failure;
  • Fertility issues (male and female);
  • Stillbirth and neonatal death;
  • Thyroid cancer risk;
  • Blood disorders; and
  • Respiratory problems.
According to a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research, survivors of childhood cancers are hospitalized more often and for longer durations of time than the general population.2

The published study identified 1,499 childhood cancer survivors treated between 1975 and 2005 who were at least five years past their original diagnosis. Of the study participants, 50% were female, and 98% were non-Hispanic white. The researchers collected demographics, type of cancer, and type of treatment.

They found that hospital admissions among childhood cancer survivors were 52% more likely, the number of admissions 67% higher, and had 35% longer lengths of stay compared to non-childhood cancer survivors.

“Our findings demonstrate that childhood cancer survivors face ongoing problems that can lead to hospitalization, even for those who are decades past their original cancer diagnosis,” said Anne C. Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “We saw higher rates of hospitalization across most cancer types, but not for all cancers, which gives us clues as to which groups of survivors may need better surveillance in the long term.”

“The Affordable Care Act has several provisions that will improve insurance for cancer survivors, including expanding coverage to dependents up to age 26, prohibiting insurance denials based on health status, and eliminating lifetime limits on coverage,” noted Kirchhoff. “Better insurance coverage should hopefully help survivors identify and manage health problems at earlier, less costly stages.”

References 1. 2.