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Cancer Health Center

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Childhood Cancer Survivors & Hospitalizations

Findings show that ongoing health problems follow them long after they've beaten their disease

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood cancer survivors wind up in the hospital more often than other people, a new study finds.

The researchers looked at nearly 1,500 people who were treated for childhood cancer between 1975 and 2005, and a "control" group of more than 7,700 people who never had cancer. All of the cancer survivors were at least five years past their diagnosis at the start of the study.

Compared to the control group, childhood cancer survivors were 52 percent more likely to be hospitalized and had a 67 percent higher number of hospital admissions. The cancer survivors were also 35 percent more likely to have stayed longer every time they were hospitalized, the investigators found.

More than 10 percent of people who survived central nervous system tumors, neuroblastoma (a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells) or bone tumors during childhood were hospitalized five or more times during the follow-up period.

Hospital admission rates for survivors of neuroblastoma and bone tumors were about two times higher than for people in the control group, according to the study in the June 12 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Among childhood cancer survivors, common reasons for hospitalization included blood disorders such as anemia, cancer, infections, nervous system problems and breathing problems.

"Our findings demonstrate that childhood cancer survivors face ongoing problems that can lead to hospitalization, even for those who are decades past their original cancer diagnosis," Anne Kirchhoff, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said in a journal news release.

"Regular cancer-focused health care is important for identifying health problems for survivors throughout their lives," she added.

"Patients and families who have experienced childhood cancer should obtain a cancer treatment summary and recommendations for follow-up care from their oncologist, and coordinate their follow-up care with their oncology and primary care doctors to ensure their health care needs are being managed," Kirchhoff advised.

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