It’s National Cancer Survivors Month, and a large proportion of these survivors battled the disease in childhood.
Often the intense physical and mental strain of cancer treatments can lead to infertility, increased second cancer risk, and even increased risk of mental health problems later on in life. The good news is that according to a new study, these long-term side effects of cancer treatments are steadily decreasing over time with advances in childhood oncology.
Research recently presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting found that the rate of severe health problems occurring five or more years after a childhood cancer diagnosis have declined over time. The incidence of severe, disabling, life-threatening, or fatal health problems arising within 15 years of childhood cancer diagnosis decreased from 12.7 percent for survivors diagnosed in the 1970s, to 10.1 percent for those diagnosed in the 1980s, to 8.8 percent for those diagnosed in the 1990s.
According to the American Cancer Society, childhood cancers make up less than 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed each year, but that’s still about 10,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 diagnosed each year. About 80 percent of children with cancer now survive 5 years or more.