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Many Childhood Cancer Survivors Not Checking for Second Malignancies
Date:6/1/2009

Another study found some also suffer PTSD years after treatment

MONDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Many childhood cancer survivors aren't following recommended guidelines on screenings for second cancers as they reach adulthood.

And some survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder years after beating their disease, two new studies show.

Not following screening guidelines can be costly because childhood cancer survivors are more likely to develop a new cancer, and to die of that new cancer, than the regular population, the researchers noted. The findings were presented during a Monday press conference at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

"This information on screening is very relevant for two reasons. First, one-third of all survivors develop life-threatening illnesses and two-thirds develop other kinds of complications, said Dr. Smita Bhatia, head of the childhood survivorship clinic at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. "Both the cancer survivors and health-care providers are not aware of this. There is a need for ongoing regular, long-term, lifelong screening of these patients, to find complications early and act upon them."

For the study, some 8,000 questionnaires completed by childhood cancer survivors found that only 11.5 percent of those who were at high risk for a new cancer got colonoscopies; only 46 percent got mammograms; and only 27 percent got skin exams.

"Care at a cancer center predicted increased surveillance for breast and skin cancer, but the majority of survivors get care from a family practitioner," said study author Dr. Paul Nathan, a staff oncologist with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "Survivors and physicians need to be educated about regular screening and survivors need to know what treatments they received because, at the end of the day, they are the best advocates for their own screening."

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