Previous studies have already documented how childhood cancer survivors are likely to have lasting health problems stemming from their treatments. However, a study of childhood cancer survivors that took place in Utah shows that such health problems, sometimes caused by things like chemotherapy and surgery, can end up causing lengthy and frequent stays in the hospital stages decades after a person has been diagnosed with cancer.
Researchers looked at statistics from 1,500 former cancer patients to determine whether or not they required a greater number of hospitalizations in comparison to peers that did not have cancer. In order to gather data about childhood cancer survivors, the scientists looked at the Utah Population Database, and the Utah Cancer Registry. They pulled out details of 1,499 patients who survived childhood cancer that were treated between 1975 and 2005. The research team also looked at the statistics from 7,713 Utah residents who had never been diagnosed with cancer. Finally, all the individuals were checked against a state database kept by the Department of Health that tracks hospital stays.
It was discovered that the survivors were 52 percent more likely to require stays in the hospital as adults compared with the people who did not have cancer. Also, the number of hospitalizations was 67 percent higher for that group when weighed against the data from the cancer-free individuals. Finally, survivors of cancer and childhood were 35 percent more likely to have longer hospital stays than those people who were never diagnosed with cancer.
If you're wondering what types of ailments were most likely to cause problems for childhood cancer survivors, researchers found that common reasons for hospitalizations included blood disorders like anemia, respiratory problems and reoccurring cancers. The study's lead researcher, Anne Kirchhoff, clarified how the findings described above were consistent with most types of cancer, but not all of them. She also said further research will need to be performed to determine the reasons why survivors get sick.
That future research about childhood cancer survivors may be particularly important especially since the American Cancer Society recently released statistics indicating that the number of cancer survivors in the United States will reach nearly 19 million by 2024. The number of survivors is currently estimated to be approximately 14.5 million.
The updated report released by the organization suggests that the number of survivors will grow in the coming years because successful and early cancer detection is on the rise, plus the treatments being given to patients are allowing them to live longer following diagnoses. That's good news, but if thy the Utah study about childhood cancer survivors is any indication, people who beat cancer while they are young may endure more hospital stays during adulthood.
[Image Credit: childcancer.org.nz]