May 28, 2009
Chemotherapy treatment and other cancer treatments can lead to the risk of developing new cancers later in life as well as a host of other health problems, says a new study released today (May 27) from Copenhagen.
Lead researcher Dr. Jorgen Olsen said it it eh potent cancer treatments are to blame and not the genetics of the patient, according to a BBC News report.
“Cancer treatments don’t just increase the risk of other cancers, “said Olsen, “ But can lead to all sorts of other problems, from cardiovascular to reproductive.”
Though childhood cancer survival rates have dramatically increased over the past 30 years, Olsen said that innovative treatments are necessary to lessen the risks for patients.
“What we need now is two-fold,” he said, “new treatment ideas to decrease the risk of later effects and much better surveillance of childhood cancer survivors during adulthood.”
The study, published in the Journal of the national Cancer Institute, is the first to show that the persistent risk for developing a second primary cancer is so long-term.
Childhood cancer patients diagnosed with the disease after 1975 showed a slightly higher risk of cancer as the treatments became more aggressive said the BBC report.
Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen studied 47, 769 people who were diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20, between 1943 and 2005. Results concluded that patients were three times more likely to develop a new cancer than their contemporaries. The cancer risk remained even as people approached their seventies.
The American Cancer Society says the fire-year relative survival rates for childhood cancer have improved from less than 50 percent before the 1970’s to nearly 80 percent today.
But the ACS also cautions of the dangers of cancer treatments.
“Survivors of childhood cancer may have treatment-related side-effects months or years after their childhood cancer, “ says an April 2008 report. “These effects can include organ damage, second cancers and problems with mental tasks.”
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliate with the U.S. National Cancer Institute.