Treatment for Childhood and Spinal Cord Cancer Linked to Lower Levels of Independence for Survivors


The survival rates for infants and children with brain and spinal cord cancer has improved significantly over the past decades. However, a study published online in early August of 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology did a study to examine adult survivors to see how early cancer affected their independence later in life. They examined 300 child cancer survivors and compared their personal and professional achievements to that of healthy middle-aged adults.

Unfortunately, the results of the study showed that over 50% of adults who had survived childhood cancer of the brain or spinal cord are not completely independent.

A research team at St Jude’s Children Hospital in Tennessee conducted the study with over 300 survivors of childhood spinal cord and brain cancer. The researchers examined employment, marriage, independent driving, and independent living to see how survivors were doing in comparison with their healthy counterparts.

Tara Brinkman, an assistant member of the St Jude faculty announced that only 40% of survivors live fully independent lives. 1/3 of survivors (or roughly 100) need significant help and are considered non-independent, and the remaining percentage (and about 81 participants) were moderately independent meaning they can do some things on their own, for their age, but still need assistance with daily living tasks. Reduced strength and the lack of aerobic capacity to perform tasks was a big factor for the group who were moderately independent. Thinking impairment was a large factor in determining who was able to live independently.

This research brings to light what this may mean for survivors in the future, what advancements can be made, and a deeper look into early intervention strategies, which can lead to greater mental and physical results for cancer patients and survivors.

It should be noted that children who have cranial spinal radiation and those who are younger when diagnosed have a greater chance of living non-independent lives.

You can read the original article here.

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