Cancer survivors living longer but no improvement in health: Study

New York, Nov 8 (IANS) Despite therapeutic advances over the past 30 years, adult survivors of childhood cancer continue to report poor physical and mental health status, a study has found.

Despite reductions in late mortality and the proportions of survivors with severe, disabling, or life-threatening chronic health conditions (33.4 per cent among those treated from 1970 to 1979 and 21.0 per cent among those treated from 1990 to 1999), those reporting adverse health status did not decrease by treatment decade.

“Considerable progress has been made over the years to extend the lives of childhood cancer survivors. Survivors from more recent eras of treatment are less likely to die from the late effects of cancer treatment and are living longer,” said Melissa Hudson, Director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, US.

The findings showed that patient were found with poor general or mental health, functional impairment, activity limitation, or cancer-related anxiety or pain was evaluated as a function of treatment decade, cancer treatment exposure, chronic health conditions, demographic characteristics and health habits.

“Overall, we observed increases in the proportions of childhood cancer survivors treated from 1990-99 who reported poor general health and anxiety,” said Kirsten Ness from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

For the study, the team involved 14,566 adult patients aged 18-48 years old who were treated for paediatric cancer in 27 institutions across North America.

The study re-emphasizes that one of the significant challenges ahead is to find ways to improve quality of life and health for all survivors of childhood cancer, the researchers noted, in the paper appearing online in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.