Many Childhood Cancer Survivors in Denial About Future Health Risks

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MONDAY, June 25, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Many adult survivors of childhood cancer don't worry about their future health and may skip crucial screenings and lifestyle changes, a new study shows.

"Some of the increased health risks faced by survivors of childhood cancer can be minimized through early detection and intervention, as well as adoption of healthy behaviors," said study co-leader Todd Gibson, from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

His team focused on questionnaire responses from more than 15,600 adult survivors of childhood cancer (median age 26) and nearly 4,000 cancer-free siblings.

About 31 percent of the survivors said they were not concerned about their future health, and 40 percent were not concerned about developing cancer. Those rates were slightly higher than or similar to their siblings.

Survivors who received high doses of radiation when they were children were more likely to be concerned about their future health. But 35 percent of these high-risk survivors were not concerned about developing cancer and 24 percent were not concerned about their future health, according to the study published June 25 in the journal Cancer.

Adults survivors of childhood cancer who aren't concerned about their future health may be less likely to get screened for cancer or to take steps to reduce their risk, the researchers suggested.

"Many survivors do not have survivor-focused medical care, so it is important for them to be aware of their health risks and advocate for appropriate guideline-based care," Gibson said in a journal news release.

"A lack of concern about potential health risks may be a barrier to this self-advocacy and adoption of healthy behaviors; however, it is important to note that not all survivors are at high risk, so for some a lack of concern is likely appropriate," Gibson added.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on childhood cancers.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, June 25, 2018

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Thu Jun 28, 2018 02:35 PM

I am a long term survivor of Hodgkin Lymphoma. I was diagnosed at age 18, in 1976. I received 12 weeks of radiation to my chest and abdomen. The list of health problems from that treatment is long. Collapsed lungs, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, blood clots and now after a heart attack and triple bypass surgery chronic heart failure. I’m also high risk for breast cancer. Treatment has improved drastically over the years but it still comes with risks. I would say if you are a survivor you must continually monitor your health throughout your life. Detecting problems early has kept me alive.

Thu Jul 12, 2018 04:09 PM

Like the above writer, I was treated for Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1971, and then for a recurrence in 1976.  The first time I had 4000+rad unshielded mantle radiation.  The second time I had MOPP therapy and cervical laminectomy to remove the tumor.  Since then I have had a replaced Aortic Heart Valve plus pacemaker, breast cancer (chose bilateral radiation b/c radiation had caused the cancer) and was recently diagnosed as having Barrett's esophagus.  I have chronic pain/neuropathy.  I am certain a "disentegrated" rotator cuff was radiation caused and resulted in a shoulder replacement/reversal.  I know treatments are better, but the drugs/treatments used are still powerful and detecting my subsequent issues early has made a huge difference.

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