WASHINGTON - Patients who successfully battled cancer during childhood face an extraordinarily high rate of chronic illness during their grown-up years, according to study published Tuesday.
The research released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) tracked 1,700 adult survivors of childhood cancer, and found that the vast majority were combating one or more chronic ailments.
"The percentage of survivors with one or more chronic health conditions prevalent in a young adult population was extraordinarily high," said lead researcher Melissa Hudson and her colleagues at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis.
The study found that 80.5 percent of adults were suffering with at least one chronic ailment by the age of 45.
The subjects in the study were most likely to suffer from ailments to the lungs, heart, auditory, nervous or endocrine systems.
The research, published in the June 12 issue of JAMA, found that there is "a growing population of adults formerly treated for childhood cancer who are at risk for health problems that appear to increase with aging."
The scientists called for additional research, noting that "the prevalence of cancer-related toxic effects... has not been well studied."
Hudson and her colleagues said life-long monitoring is in order for those stricken with cancer in childhood.
"These data underscore the need for clinically focused monitoring, both for conditions that have significant morbidity if not detected and treated early - such as second malignancies and heart disease - and also for those that if remediated can improve quality of life, such as hearing loss and vision deficits," the researchers said.