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Experts highlight gaps in knowledge on caring for survivors of teenage and young adult cancers
Date:6/10/2008

but a north American study has shown that, 30 years after diagnosis, 42% are affected by severe disease or a life-threatening condition, or have died. In the UK, there are approximately 30,000 survivors of cancer diagnosed before the age of 15, and given that cancer is more common between the ages of 15-24 than in childhood and assuming cure rates are similar to those for children, there are probably over 30,000 survivors of cancer diagnosed when they were aged between 15-24.

Dr Nichols will explain that cancer patients face a double whammy: "There are two aspects: the burden of the disease and the burden of treatment. Each makes a long-term contribution to the patient's quality of life."

Problems for cancer survivors include: the increased risk of a second cancer arising either from the first cancer or from its treatment, infertility caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, hypertension, kidney problems, the metabolic syndrome (a collection of disorders such as obesity, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and insulin resistance) and hormonal disorders. Survivors of testicular cancer may have life-long problems with low sperm counts, low testosterone levels and poor semen quality. Patients who have survived cancer as children, teenagers or young adults often have psychosocial problems as well.

"We are beginning to learn more about the psychosocial consequences such as body image, employment and sexual health," says Dr Nichols. "There's a higher incidence of lower performance in life generally among cancer survivors. They have undergone a big life disruption at a formative time in their lives. There needs to be recognition of this so that we can try to identify problems and risks early on and be pre-emptive in our use of psychosocial interventions and use of medications."

Traditionally, paediatricians have tended to drive initiatives on caring for cancer survivors because they recognised the problem some time ago. In the U
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
44-077-112-96986
Teenage Cancer Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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