Battling cancer takes a lot out of a person’s health and overall well being. A new study shows that adults who have survived cancer during childhood feel older than their age, and generally have lower quality-of-life scores when it comes to health.
Dr. Lisa Diller, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, is the senior author on the study. She says, “Our findings indicate survivors’ accelerated aging, and also helps us understand the health-related risks associated with having had cancer as a child.” Diller adds, “What’s encouraging is that the lower quality-of-life scores are associated with chronic disease after treatment, not with a history of pediatric cancer itself.”
As per UPI’s report, the research team gathered data from pediatric cancer survivors in the USA. Overall quality-of-life scores in relation to health were found to be similar among the age demographics of 18-29 years old and 40 years old.
Patients who had experienced more chronic health problems after surviving cancer tended to have lower quality-of-life scores. Referencing another study on childhood cancer survivors, Diller and her team found that only 20% of 7,000 respondents had no chronic conditions.
Studies have shown that cancer survivors are at high risk for heart disease, other forms of cancer, infertility, lung problems, autoimmune diseases, and other similar chronic conditions. These risks are primarily associated with cancer treatment methods such as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
Diller goes on to explain that her team’s findings provide a concrete comparison between adults who have survived pediatric cancer and the general population, in terms of quality of life.
If we can prevent treatment-related conditions by changes in the therapy we use for cancer, then childhood cancer will become an acute, rather than a chronic, illness, Diller says.
The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.