Stories about: late effects of cancer treatment

Surviving cancer takes more than medicine

Recent estimates from the American Cancer Society (ACS) put the number of cancer survivors living in the U.S. right now at about 13.7 million, and in the next decade that number should hit 18 million.

Many of those survivors, especially young patients, will face unique issues after cancer treatment: dealing with emotional and physical side effects, legal rights concerning health care and employment, reproduction issues, getting appropriate follow-up care and readjusting to school and social lives. Because younger patients have such special needs, Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) has many programs to help.

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The cost of a cure

girl in bedSince the 1970’s, advancements in medical technology have led to much higher survival rates among children cancer patients. Thanks to the invention and/or further development of cancer treatments like radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, the survival rate of children with cancer has risen dramatically in the past 30 years. But as the recipients of these treatments approach middle age, new data concerning their long term health effects is coming to light.

An analysis recently released by the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that childhood cancer survivors are more likely to die earlier than their peers who have never undergone cancer treatment. While this information may seem disheartening, Lisa Diller, MD, senior author of the study and clinical director of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston points out that despite the potential dangers of lasting effects, these types of medical advancements have done far more good than harm.

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