Study shows children who suffered from cancer are true survivors

January 12, 2007

Data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study shows that young patients with acute myeloid leukemia are not only surviving, but doing well in adult life, despite an increased risk for secondary cancers or heart disease.

Data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study shows that young patients with acute myeloid leukemia are not only surviving, but doing well in adult life, despite an increased risk for secondary cancers or heart disease.

Daniel A. Mulrooney, MD, of the University of Minnesota said at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Orlando, Fl., in December that the long-term survival rate of five-year survivors of AML is generally over 90%. Dr. Mulrooney stresses, though, that late recurrences and the medical late effects of therapy, such as cancers and cardiovascular symptoms, warrant long-term follow-up.

In the study, Dr. Mulrooney and colleagues focused on both the late medical and social effects of aggressive therapy on those patients who as children or young adults were treated for acute myeloid leukemia.

They looked at a cohort of 275 five-year survivors who had been diagnosed with cancer at age 21 or younger from 1970 through 1986. The survivors were compared to a control group of 3,899 siblings, and the data were adjusted for age and gender. Among the group of five-year survivors, overall survival was 97% at 10 years, and 94% at 20 years.

Survival rates also vary by race. Leukemia and lymphoma survival rates have gradually improved among all age groups from 0-29. Disparities in success rates between racial groups, however, although improved in the age range of 0-19, became more pronounced among young adults, age 20-29. African Americans face a higher likelihood of developing and dying from each of the four most common cancers in the U.S. (lung, colon, breast, and prostate), have also shown worse outcomes in pediatric leukemia and lymphoma.