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Childhood cancer survivors are at high risk for multiple tumors as they age
Date:6/27/2011

The largest study yet of adult childhood cancer survivors found that the first cancer is just the beginning of a lifelong battle against different forms of the disease for about 10 percent of these survivors.

The research involved 14,358 individuals enrolled in the federally funded Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS). St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators leading the effort reported that 1,382, or 9.6 percent, of survivors developed new tumors unrelated to their original cancers. About 30 percent of those survivors, 386 individuals, developed third tumors. Four or more tumors were found in 153 survivors in this study. The results appear in the June 27 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"These findings show that when you describe adult survivors of childhood cancer it is not sufficient to describe their risk of a first subsequent cancer, but to acknowledge that some of these patients are at risk for multiple cancers. This is the first study to more fully enumerate that risk," said Gregory Armstrong, M.D., the study's principal investigator and an assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control.

The work underscores the importance of cancer screenings for this growing population. "Too often, survivors still are not getting these important cancer screening tests beginning as early or as often as recommended," Armstrong said. For example, mammograms beginning at age 25 rather than age 40 are recommended for female survivors whose childhood treatment included chest radiation of 20 grays or more. A gray is a measure of absorbed radiation.

An estimated 366,000 Americans alive today are childhood cancer survivors. With overall long-term childhood cancer survival rates now at 80 percent, the ranks of survivors are expected to keep growing. The CCSS was launched in 1994 to identify the challenges facing childhood cancer survivors and to develop new methods to ease
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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