Thirty years after their diagnosis, 40 percent of cancer survivors have a serious health problem and a third have multiple problems, including stroke, heart disease and kidney failure, according to the largest study ever done on cancer survivors who have entered adulthood.
Only about one in three remain healthy.
“This is the dark side to being cured of cancer as a young person,” said Philip Rosoff of the Duke University School of Medicine in a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The findings are a stark counterpoint to the stunning success of treating many childhood tumors. About 20,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year and while most died 50 years ago, the cure rate is now greater than 75 percent.
Doctors have known for years that cancer treatment can spark new tumors later in life.
“It is now clear that damage to the organ systems of children caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy may not become clinically evident for many years,” said the research team, led by Kevin Oeffinger of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
The new Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is based on data from 26 medical centers and marks the first large-scale attempt to assess other, long-term health problems.
Comparing 10,397 survivors to 3,034 of their siblings, the researchers found that “cancer survivors were eight times as likely as their siblings to have severe or life-threatening chronic health conditions.”
Survivors of bone tumors, nerve and brain cancer, and Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the immune system, faced the highest risk.
“By any criteria, these results are alarming,” said Rosoff.
The survivors were 54 times more likely to have required a major joint replacement, 15 times more likely to have congestive heart failure or develop a second malignant tumor, 10 times more likely to have heart disease or thinking problems, and nine times more likely to have suffered a stroke or kidney failure.
The problems “run the gamut of affected organ systems, hinting that even more problems may cloud the future as this population ages,” Rosoff said. Traditional age-related problems may hit this group even earlier than normal.
The source of the health problems varies.
Kidney failure, for example, may come from damage caused directly by chemotherapy or radiation, or from the multiple infections children can develop when cancer treatments hamper their immune system, Oeffinger said.
Drugs used to treat those infections may also play a role.
The risk of stroke may become higher because head and chest radiation may cause premature thickening of the neck arteries, or changes in the heart valves can increase the risk that a clot will form, said Oeffinger.
– NBC News, Reuters Health
Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec’s comments on child cancer survivors have poor health as adults.
The point of this study was very simply: things that you do at one point in your life can have wide ranging effects at a later point. So unfortunately in the medical system the only thing they know for treating cancer is chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. The problem as this study shows, is in these childhood cancer survivors from these medical treatments, 40% of them have serious health problems later on in life and only one in about three remain healthy. One of the biggest point that we want to comment on this which we made bold in the article, doctor’s have known for years that cancer treatments can spark new tumors later in life.
What that means is, when you drop the atom bomb in the body of the chemotherapy and the radiation to destroy cells, they are not specific, they also destroy the immune system. Once you destroy the immune system you open yourself up to all disease including new tumor growth later in life along with the damage organ systems, which affect many other health issues later in life. That’s why as the article showed, cancer survivors were eight times more likely than their siblings to have severe or life threatening chronic health conditions. They also went through the list of all the things that they were more likely to have. It’s important to understand this. There is another way.
The way is the total health lifestyle. When we lead a lifestyle, a God designed total health lifestyle, and we lead this lifestyle day in and day out, what happens is we give the body the best natural chance to boost the immune system to fight off cancer and any other disease. But when we are not proactive, when we decide to just do the easy route, just take a pill, take a drug, take a chemotherapy or radiation, what happens in just this, it can shrink tumors, it can reverse cancer in certain cases, and by the way the only statistically positive results, long term for cancer has been in children, in young children, with certain types of childhood cancers. But as this study even shows long term negative effects later on in life.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to just live a healthy lifestyle and boost the system up so it could fight off the diseases, rather than trying to do a quick fix which has a long term blowout later on in life? We do not want the quick fix, we want the long term correction by leading the lifestyle, The Seven Basic Steps to Total Health lifestyle.