Adjustments in treatment has increased the lifespan of survivors of childhood cancer significantly particularly in Canada and United States as a new research reveals.  The deaths among 5 year survivors fifteen years after the cancer has been diagnosed has halved since 1970s and this has essentially fallen from 12% to 6%. This was revealed after studying about 34000 people. About fifty years ago, only 20 percent of children survived cancer compared to the 80% of children who are alive today and five years after being diagnosed.

Long term health risks reduced

There has been a significant reduction of long term health risks due to changes in treatment as noted by the researchers and this also includes lung and heart problems as well as second cancers. The significant modifications that have been carried out in chemotherapy and radiation treatments have in particular been very beneficial as noted by the study authors. Now, it is not just more children that have been able to survive primary cancer, but the overall lifespan has also been remarkably extended through a reduction in the overall treatment toxicity in modern times as noted by the researcher. These findings were to be presented on Sunday at American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago during their annual meeting.

Previous research has revealed that children cancer survivors tend to die before celebrating their 30th birthday. Even though the risk of the cancer returning or worsening over time seems to level off, the death from other possible medical problems tend to increase every year once the patient survives beyond their diagnosis of cancer. Data was looked at by researchers on the health outcome of the 5 year childhood cancer survivors who had been diagnosed between 1970 and 1999. Death rates were assessed by the researchers among those who participated through an analysis of computerized death record information index.

Lower death rates noted

It was evident that the total deaths resulting from other causes related to health reduced to 2.1 percent from 3.5 percent during this period as shown by the findings. Children who were more recently diagnosed seemed to have a reduced risk of death resulting from related health problems such as lung or heart disease or cancer. The lower rates of death noted were largely attributed to reduced deaths as a result of late cancer treatment effects and the trend was very obvious for those who survived Wilms tumor, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Even though cancer therapy has been greatly modernized and has brought about this great difference, the significant improvements noted in the supportive care availed to survivors, detection and consequent treatment of the late effects has contributed greatly to extend the patient’s life span considerably.