What is known?
Approximately one-third of people who receive treatment for cancer during childhood experience severe complications over the following years, known as late effects, which can lead to an increased risk of death.
What is new?
This is the first national study in Australia of deaths due to noncancer diseases among five-year survivors of childhood cancer, showing that they experienced more than a four-fold increased risk of noncancer disease-related death compared to people who did not experience childhood cancer (although noting that the absolute risk remains small). The study results were also novel in that we demonstrated the risk of deaths from diseases other than cancer was significantly higher among patients who received more intensive treatment compared to those on less intensive treatment regimens.
What does this mean?
Information on a greater than expected number of deaths following treatment can be used to guide clinicians in treatment decisions and patient surveillance to allow early intervention if possible, with the aim of avoiding life-threatening or life-altering late effects without compromising shorter-term survival.
Contact: Danny Youlden
Reference: Youlden DR, Walwyn TS, Cohn RJ, Harden HE, Pole JD, Aitken JF. Late mortality from other diseases following childhood cancer in Australia and the impact of intensity of treatment. Pediatric Blood and Cancer. 2021. 68(5):e28835.