Improved Life Expectancy for Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Image of Jennifer Yeh.

Although 5-year survivorship of childhood cancer has reached over 80% in recent years, survivors remain at risk for a shortened life expectancy compared to the general population. CHDS affiliated faculty Jennifer Yeh and colleagues project that this gap in life expectancy is closing over time due to advances in treatment and care in a study recently published in JAMA Oncology.

Using data from the NCI-funded Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, the researchers developed a microsimulation model to project trends in life expectancy of adult survivors of childhood cancers who were diagnosed between 1970 and 1999. They found that those treated in the 1990s will live longer into adulthood compared to those treated in the 1970s. Five-year survivors diagnosed in the 1970s had 16.5 fewer years in life expectancy compared to people without a history of cancer, while five-year survivors diagnosed in the 1990s had 9.2 fewer years in life expectancy.

The modeling study suggests that advancements in treatment and care, in particular the reductions in radiotherapy usage, are responsible for this improved long-term survival in more recent decades. Childhood cancer survivors, however, regardless of decade of treatment, remain at risk for a shortened life expectancy due to treatment-related late effects of treatments, such as secondary cancers. These findings underscore the importance of continuing to monitor the health of survivors to reduce late mortality risks and improve long-term survival.

Learn more: Read the JAMA Oncology article.
Learn more: Read the accompanying editorial in JAMA Oncology.
Learn more: About CHDS modeling studies.

Related news: Childhood Cancer Prevalence