Too much information? Study finds recent cancer survivors report poorer health

WASHINGTON — Treating childhood cancer now may be less toxic now than in earlier decades, but survivors don’t feel any better off.

The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine evaluated responses from people in their 20s and 30s who were asked to report their physical and mental health status. The study included responses from more than 14,000 survivors of childhood cancer from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

“Despite an overall decline in radiation exposure, reduced mean chemotherapy doses, and decreased proportions of survivors with more severe chronic health conditions, patient-reported health status generally did not improve across treatment decade,” a news release from the American College of Physicians said.

The study’s hypothesis was that patients treated in the 1990s, with contemporary therapy would have better health status than those treated in the 1970s. But instead, the study found that survivors treated in the ’70s had lower numbers reporting poor health and cancer-related anxieties over the course of time than those treated in the ’90s.

Researchers believe that this was due to the ready access to and availability of information on follow-up care and educational materials, which have prepared patients on the adverse outcomes and later effects of their disease.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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