Childhood cancer survivors are living longer. Now research shows they are also less likely to develop second cancers while still young. The decline followed a sharp drop in the use of radiation therapy for treatment of childhood cancers.
Between the 1970s and the 1990s, the percentage of pediatric cancer patients treated with radiation fell from 77 to 33 percent. The average radiation dose also dropped. Their chance of having second cancers within 15 years of the first fell as well.
The study included 23,603 five-year survivors from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. The survivors were treated at 27 medical centers in the U.S. and Canada. The federally funded study is based at St. Jude. Gregory Armstrong, MD, of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, heads the study.
"The most ominous late effect of pediatric cancer treatment is a second malignancy," he said. "This study shows efforts to reduce the late effects of treatment are paying off.
"The risk of second cancers for survivors increases with age, so it is good to see the reduction emerging early in survivorship while survivors are still young."
The research is published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Greg Armstrong, M.D., is the principal investigator for the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS). The JAMA paper, which utilizes data from the CCSS, shows that pediatric cancer patients treated with less intense therapies have a reduced risk for secondary cancers and other late effects.
Article: Temporal Trends in Treatment and Subsequent Neoplasm Risk Among 5-Year Survivors of Childhood Cancer, 1970-2015, Lucie M. Turcotte, MD, MPH, MS; Qi Liu, MS; Yutaka Yasui, PhD; Michael A. Arnold, MD, PhD; Sue Hammond, MD; Rebecca M. Howell, PhD; Susan A. Smith, MPH; Rita E. Weathers, MS; Tara O. Henderson, MD; Todd M. Gibson, PhD; Wendy Leisenring, ScD; Gregory T. Armstrong, MD, MSCE; Leslie L. Robison, PhD; Joseph P. Neglia, MD, MPH, JAMA, doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.0693, published 28 February 2017.