Childhood cancer survivors’ overall health quality is akin to middle-age adults

Written by Emma Tiller on 22 Apr 2016 | NH Voice | See Original Here

Overall health-related quality of life among young adult survivors of childhood cancer is similar to that of middle-aged adults. In a research paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the researchers have informed that childhood cancer survivors aged 18 to 29 years have reported their health to be similar to adults in the general populated in their 40s.

Presence or absence of chronic health conditions is considered to be an important variable in determining people’s sense of well-being. Childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of heart disease, infertility, lung disease cancers and other chronic conditions linked to prior chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

The researchers have assessed health indicators of 18 to 49 year olds, who took part in the national Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS). Out of the total, only 20% reported no chronic conditions. Study’s senior author, Lisa Diller, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, said, “This research provides an easily accessible way to compare adult survivors of childhood cancer to the general population, in terms of their health-related quality of life, which normally declines as people age”.

The researchers said that the lower quality of life scores are linked with chronic disease or serious health issues after treatment. They added that if treatment-related conditions can be prevented by changes in the therapy used for the cancer then childhood cancer will become acute rather than chronic.

It is the first study to use the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) to compare the health-related quality of life of the general population with that of childhood cancer survivors. The researchers have found that childhood cancer survivors who report non-chronic health conditions had scores similar to the general population.

Jennifer Yeh, a research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science at the Harvard Chan School, said that by having comparisons with general population, the information derived helps in better understanding of how the cancer may influence the long-term well being of survivors.

"This research provides an easily accessible way to compare adult survivors of childhood cancer to the general population, in terms of their health-related quality of life, which normally declines as people age," said Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's and the study's senior author, according to a news report published by EurekAlert.

"Our findings indicate survivors' accelerated aging and also help us understand the health-related risks associated with having had cancer as a child. 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. If we can prevent treatment-related conditions by changes in the therapy we use for the cancer, then childhood cancer will become an acute, rather than a chronic, illness."

"By enabling comparisons to the general population, our findings provide context to better understand how the cancer experience may influence the long-term well-being of survivors," said Jennifer Yeh, PhD, lead author of the study and a research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science at the Harvard Chan School. "This is another way to understand the health challenges survivors face and where to focus efforts to improve the long- term health and quality of life of survivors."

According to a story published on the topic by Science Codex, "The key variable determining people's sense of well-being is the presence or absence of chronic health conditions. Childhood cancer survivors have been found to have higher risks of heart disease, infertility, lung disease, cancers and other chronic conditions related largely to their prior chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Examining health indicators in 18-to-49 year-olds who participate in the national Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), the investigators found that only 20 percent reported no chronic conditions."

"This research provides an easily accessible way to compare adult survivors of childhood cancer to the general population, in terms of their health-related quality of life, which normally declines as people age," said Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's and the study's senior author. "Our findings indicate survivors' accelerated aging and also help us understand the health-related risks associated with having had cancer as a child. 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. If we can prevent treatment-related conditions by changes in the therapy we use for the cancer, then childhood cancer will become an acute, rather than a chronic, illness."

A report published in BridgeWater revealed, "Bridgewater resident Dan Lamoureux first hit the road in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2010 when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and he participated in the Pan Mass Challenge on Team Crush Cancer. Two years later, the race he dedicated to his mother evolved into the Team Crush Cancer 5K in his hometown."

Organized by Northeast Race Management, the flat and fast course winds through the streets of Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. It is a competitive and fun event for all ages and abilities, consisting of a USATF measured and certified 5-kilometer course, chip timing with live online results. There will be awards for overall winners, age groups and teams. There is also a 3K family fun run/walk.