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Childhood cancer, plus how it might affect marital status and future children

October 8, 2009 |  4:18 pm

Swingset The effects of childhood cancer treatment, not to mention the psychological effects of battling the disease itself, linger in ways that are only beginning to be explored. Three new studies offer a possible glimpse at life years later.

- In one new study, researchers took data on 8,928 adult survivors of childhood cancer and 2,879 of their siblings and compared their marital status. They found that survivors were less likely to wed, with those who had been treated for central nervous system tumors the least likely to wed. But divorce patterns for all survivors were similar.

The abstract for the study, published this month in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. And the Yale University news release.

- Other researchers found that children born to female survivors were slightly more likely to be born early and small, but otherwise fared well. The abstract, published this month in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

- And children born to male survivors have been found to be at only a marginal risk of having a low birthweight, compared with the general population. Otherwise, they too fared well. The abstract, published in the same issue, and the news release from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on both studies.

Here's an overview of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study from the National Cancer Institute. And a story from the Los Angeles Times on this new field of research: "Health of childhood cancer survivors is still at risk: About two-thirds of pediatric cancer survivors experience at least one late health effect of treatment, and for more than one-quarter of survivors it is severe or life-threatening."

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Childhood may be left behind, but the effects of cancer treatment might not be.

Credit: Los Angeles Times