Childhood cancer effects track through adulthood



baby handFirst of all, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Noah Biorkman. I f you remember, we featured Noah on this site, a 5-year old boy who was suffering from stage IV neuroblastoma and whose utmost wish was to receive lots and lots of Christmas cards. Noah lost his battle with cancer on November 23. He received more than a million Christmas cards

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Continuing on the topic of neuroblastoma, children who survives is terrible cancer seem to carry the burden of the disease up to adulthood. The burden may not come in the recurrence of the cancer itself but neuroblastoma survivors are more likely to suffer from other chronic health conditions later in life than those who did not suffer from cancer, according to a study by American and Canadian researchers. In addition, their social life may also be badly affected.

The researchers looked at 954 neuroblastoma survivors as part of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS). These survivors were diagnosed with the disease from 1970 to 1986. The survivors were compared to a group of similar age who were siblings of children with cancer. The children were followed up for twenty years for recurrence of cancer and other health conditions.

The results showed that:

  • Neuroblastoma survivors are eight times more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions in adulthood, and these conditions include neurological, endocrine, sensory, and musculoskeletal complications.
  • The survivors are less likely to be married and less likely to be employed with high income compared to the sibling group.

According to study leader Caroline Laverdière, professor of pediatrics at the Université de Montréal and a researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center

“Results of the current study underscore the need for close surveillance and life-long follow-up to improve potential medical and psychosocial effects of neuroblastoma. Future research should build on these findings and investigate risk factors for long-term complications of neuroblastoma treatment and second malignant tumour.”

About neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a rare but deadly childhood cancer. It usually originates as a tumor in the sympathetic nervous system. The tumors are usually evident in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis but sometimes no primary tumor is visible.

According to the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation, about 600 to 700 cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each year. It is a pediatric cancer “that develops in young children-half of all cancers diagnosed in infants are neuroblastomas.  The median age at diagnosis is about 2 years old. Numerous children are diagnosed after age 2, but the number of diagnoses decreases as age increases.”

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