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St. Jude Study Reveals Chronic Health Conditions Are Most Prevalent in Survivors of Pediatric Central Nervous System Cancers

09/28/17

A study by St. Jude has revealed that the extent of chronic health conditions in adult childhood cancer survivors is significantly more substantial than those in the general public.

The results of this extensive research, which are detailed in “The cumulative burden of surviving childhood cancer: an initial report from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study,” can be used to better inform future clinical guidelines, research investigations and health services planning for childhood cancer survivors.

The study collected chronic health condition data from more than 3,000 adult childhood cancer survivors who were treated at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and survived 10 years or longer from initial diagnosis. This information was compared with matched community volunteer controls, and researchers graded the severity of 168 chronic health conditions.

The study found that at age 50, the average pediatric cancer survivor had 17.1 chronic health conditions (CHCs), including 4.7 that were severe or life-threatening. This was vastly different than the community control of 9.2 and 2.3, respectively, revealing that survivors experience nearly double the number of chronic health conditions than the general public.

In particular, the cumulative burden of chronic health conditions was highest in central nervous system cancers such as brain tumors, with an average of 24 CHCs compared to the 17.1 average for overall cancer survivors. Higher doses of brain and chest radiation and older age at diagnosis were also found to be significantly associated with greater cumulative burden and severity of chronic health conditions.

These staggering numbers are why helping pediatric brain tumor survivors thrive is one of the three pillars of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s expanded mission to Care. Cure. Thrive. The long-term ramifications of treatment methods cannot be ignored.

“As is far too often the case with the disease itself, the negative health-related impact of childhood cancer and its treatment are not confined. They reach beyond adolescence into adulthood,” says Dr. Joanne Salcido, Vice President of Research and Advocacy at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. “There is tremendous urgency to fill the high unmet medical need, and this study helps keep this sobering truth in the spotlight.”

Along with funding research for cures that will lead to a better quality of life, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is committed to empowering today’s survivors through our scholarship program and other support services. Since 2001, the PBTF has awarded more than 1,500 scholarships to childhood brain tumor survivors.

You can have a direct impact on children diagnosed with brain tumors by donating to the PBTF. Every dollar counts in the battle against pediatric brain cancer.