CHICAGO — Fifty years ago, only one in five children with cancer survived, but today more than 80% are alive years after diagnosis, delegates heard at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.
"We've not only helped more children survive their primary cancer," lead investigator Gregory Armstrong, MD, from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a statement, "we've also extended their overall lifespan by reducing the overall toxicity of treatment."
The researchers followed 5-year cancer survivors for an average of 21 years after diagnosis. During that period, 3958 patients died; 1618 of those deaths were from other health-related causes, including death related to the late effects of cancer therapy.
Changes in care have reduced the risk for death related to the effects of pediatric cancer treatment, such as subsequent malignancies and cardiac and lung disease.
"For decades, we've strived to avoid the paradox in which children survive cancer only to become sick or die years later because of the treatment they received," ASCO spokesperson Stephen Hunger, MD, told reporters. "We hope that the positive trends we're seeing today will continue as our therapeutic approaches continue to improve over time."
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Cite this: Number of Childhood Cancer Survivors on the Rise - Medscape - Jun 01, 2015.