Childhood cancer survivors are four times more at risk of late mortatility ― a death occuring more than five years after curing the intial disease ― in adulthood as the general population, even 40 years after diagnosis, according to a new study in medical journal The Lancet.
The study is the first to detail that the primary causes of adult death in survivors are similar to the leading causes of death in the U.S. population, including liver and kidney disease, heart disease, stroke and second cancers.
However, those deaths are more likely to occur at an earlier age in cancer survivors.
The study, published Wednesday and led by researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, highlights the lifelong impact of pediatric cancer but also found some causes for hope.
In adulthood, survivors who had fewer heart disease risk factors and maintained a healthy weight, did not drink alcohol excessively, did not smoke and exercised at or above the intensity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a 20% lower risk of mortality than those survivors following an unhealthy lifestyle.