Researchers systematically screened over 1,700 adults who had been diagnosed with cancer as children. They found that, approximately 25 years after this diagnosis, 98% had a chronic health problem, and two-thirds had a disabling or life-threatening condition.
A number of these problems had been previously undiagnosed, highlighting the importance of ongoing health monitoring for adults who survive childhood cancer.
In the UK this week, charity Macmillan Cancer Support has been warning that the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with, and surviving, cancer will place an increasing burden on health services and other support organisations. It estimates that by 2020 47% of the UK population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime, with 38% of those diagnosed with cancer going on to die, not from cancer, but from another cause.
Macmillan warns that growing evidence shows that many cancer patients do not return to full health after gruelling treatments and the serious side-effects of the disease, needing ongoing support with physical and emotional problems.
It appears, ironically, that while medical and technological advances mean that people are living longer, this is creating an increasing demand for health care and support.
‘Clinical Ascertainment of Health Outcomes Among Adults Treated for Childhood Cancer‘ was published in JAMA. 2013;309(22):2371-2381.