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Childhood cancer survivors may face shortened lifespan, study reveals
Date:4/6/2010

drew on data collected in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) on individuals who were under age 21 when diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 1986, and who survived at least five years. Those patients have been followed only for 20 to 30 years, Yeh said, so lifetime outcomes aren't yet known.

The HSPH and Harvard scientists and their collaborators used a mathematical simulation model that converted the excess mortality risk estimates from the CCSS into estimated life expectancies for the survivors compared to the general population. Among their projections were these:

  • For all types of cancer, life expectancy was decreased by an average of 10.4 years, or 17.1 percent, ranging from 4.0 years (6.0 percent) for kidney cancer survivors to about 17.8 years (28.0 percent) for brain and bone tumor survivors.

  • One in four survivors would die from recurrences of the original cancer or from new cancers developing as a result of treatment. One in 20 would die from non-cancer-related causes such as heart and respiratory damage caused by cancer therapy.

  • The risks of premature death are highest in the first few decades after diagnosis and treatment, leveling off in later years. "These results suggest that recognition and treatment of illnesses associated with late effects in the first 35 years after therapy for childhood cancer will probably result in improved longevity," the authors wrote in the report.

  • Patients treated in the more recent years of the CCSS study fared better than those treated earlier, giving hope that changes in cancer therapies will lead to longer lives.

In 2007, the CCSS began recruiting a new cohort ofchildhood cancer survivors treated between 1987 and 1999. When the results become available, the authors plan to estimate how improved methods of delivering cancer treatment may reduce the impact of cumulative long-term effects on survivor life expectancy.


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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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