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Cancer Health Center

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Childhood Cancer Survivors Need Screening

Cancer Screening Among Childhood Cancer Survivors Low

WebMD Health News

Dec. 15, 2003 -- Adults who survive childhood cancers face higher risks of future cancers yet despite this, cancer-screening practices are below optimal levels, researchers say.

A new study shows the cancer screening practices of adult survivors of childhood cancers are well below recommended levels for the general population, despite the fact that cancer survivors face a higher lifetime risk of cancer recurrence or a second cancer.

Researchers say that more and more people are surviving childhood cancers that once proved fatal and as many as eight out of 10 children with cancer now survive 10 years or more. Those advances in treatment have created a growing segment of the population that will have an increased risk of cancer for the rest of their life, and researchers say that until now little was known about the screening practices among this group.

Young Cancer Survivors Lax at Screening

In this study, which will appear in the Feb. 1, 2004 issue of the journal Cancer, researchers surveyed 9,430 young adult survivors of childhood cancer and 2,670 of their siblings.

Researchers found that both male and female cancer survivors were more likely to be screened for cancer than their siblings, but the rates were far from optimal.

For example, among female childhood cancer survivors:

  • 27% said they performed regular breast self-exams
  • 73% reported getting a PAP (Papanicolaou) smear within the last three years
  • 62% had a clinical breast exam within the last year
  • 21% had gotten at least one mammogram in their lifetime

Researchers say that even among particularly high-risk groups, cancer screening rates were low. Only 57% of female childhood cancer survivors age 30 and over who had an increased risk of breast cancer because they were exposed to chest or mantle radiation said they had ever had a mammogram.

Among men, only 17% reported that they performed regular testicular self-exams.

Researchers found several factors that seemed to have an impact on the level of cancer screening, including age at diagnosis, education level, and concern for health.

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