Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Childhood Cancer Survivors Unhealthy as Adults

Researchers Say Survivors Have More Physical and Emotional Problems
WebMD Health News

May 16, 2005 (Orlando, Fla.) -- Adult survivors of childhood cancer have more physical and emotional problems than other men and women, according to two new studies.

In one study, researchers found that two out of three adults who beat childhood cancer develop cirrhosis, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

A separate study showed that nearly three-fourths of cancer survivors experience serious emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and other lingering psychiatric problems.

There are more than 270,000 adults who are survivors of childhood cancer in the U.S., according to researchers, who presented their studies here Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

According to the National Cancer Institute, over the past 20 years there has been some increase in the incidence of children diagnosed with all forms of cancers. During this same time, however, death rates declined dramatically and five-year survival rates have increased for most childhood cancers. The improvement in survival is due mostly to advances in treatment resulting in a cure.

Health Problems of Cancer Survivors

The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study included 10,397 people who were diagnosed with a childhood cancer between 1970 and 1986. They had survived a variety of cancers, chiefly brain or bone tumors or blood cell cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Compared with their siblings, the survivors "were almost twice as likely to have some health condition," says researcher Kevin C. Oeffinger, MD, professor of family medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

When he looked at more serious medical problems, the outlook was even bleaker. The cancer survivors were 4.4 times more likely to have heart failure, secondary cancers, mental retardation, or other "severe, life-threatening or disabling" medical conditions than their brothers and sisters.

Some of the survivors needed kidney transplants, others were legally blind, and still others suffered paralysis, he says.

Radiation a Major Culprit

Large doses of radiation used to diagnose and treat some of the cancers seem to be the main reason, Oeffinger tells WebMD. Some of the toxic drugs used to kill cancer cells are also to blame, he says.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas