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Childhood Cancer Survivors a Growing Patient Population

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Posted January 8, 2014

Improved treatment of childhood cancer has led to an unprecedented health care problem, with primary care physicians unprepared to care for the special medical needs of adult cancer survivors, researchers report.

A survey of internists — primary care doctors for adults — found that most physicians were not comfortable caring for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

Most also were unfamiliar with the special needs these patients have because of their cancer treatment, according to findings published Jan. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For example, only 12 percent of the internists surveyed felt at least “somewhat familiar” with health screening guidelines for childhood cancer survivors.

“These patients need special health care throughout their lifetime, focused on screening and prevention,” said co-author Dr. Tara Henderson, director of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. “This tells us there’s a gap we need to address to improve the health of these patients.”

In a way, it’s a problem that cancer doctors are happy to have. Back in the 1950s, fewer than half of kids survived childhood cancer, Henderson said. These days, the cure rate is 80 percent or higher.

Currently, more than 350,000 childhood cancer survivors live in the United States, and the number continues to grow, the authors note.

Read more at: MedlinePlus

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