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Frequent Hospital Visits For Childhood Cancer Survivors

Update Date: Jun 12, 2014 11:06 AM EDT

Childhood cancer survivors were hospitalized more often and for longer duration, after many years of cancer treatment compared to general population, according to a new study. The problems were generally blood disorders. 

"Our findings demonstrate that childhood cancer survivors face ongoing problems that can lead to hospitalization, even for those who are decades past their original cancer diagnosis. This can negatively impact their quality of life," said Anne C. Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, in the press release.

"Regular cancer-focused health care is important for identifying health problems for survivors throughout their lives," Kirchhoff added. "Patients and families who have experienced childhood cancer should obtain a cancer treatment summary and recommendations for follow-up care from their oncologist, and coordinate their follow-up care with their oncology and primary care doctors to ensure their health care needs are being managed."

The study found that survivors were 52 percent more likely to be hospitalized and their number of admission was 67 percent higher in comparison to age and sex-matched individuals who did not have cancer. The study further noted that survivors were 35 percent more likely to have stayed longer every time they were hospitalized, compared with controls. 

"The Affordable Care Act has several provisions that will improve insurance for cancer survivors, including expanding coverage to dependents up to age 26, prohibiting insurance denials based on health status, and eliminating lifetime limits on coverage," noted Kirchhoff in the press release. "Better insurance coverage should hopefully help survivors identify and manage health problems at earlier, less costly stages."

50 percent of the subjects included in the study were female and 98 percent of them were non-Hispanic white.

"We saw higher rates of hospitalization across most cancer types, but not for all cancers, which gives us clues as to which groups of survivors may need better surveillance in the long term," said Kirchhoff.

The study has been published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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