The number of childhood cancer survivors has increased significantly since 2005, but the majority of survivors have some sort of morbidity, according to Dr. Siobhan M. Phillips of Northwestern University, Chicago, and her associates.

Investigators used cancer incidence and survival data from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries, and data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort that had information on potential adverse and late effects of cancer treatment from more than 14,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancers. There were nearly 590,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States in 2011, an increase of about 60,000 from 2005. More than 80% had lived longer than 5 years post diagnosis. However, 70% of survivors had a mild to moderate chronic condition, with nearly a third having a severe, disabling, or life-threatening condition. The most common morbidity was neurocognitive dysfunction, Dr. Phillips and her associates reported.

“Our study findings highlight that a singular focus on curing cancer yields an incomplete picture of childhood cancer survivorship. The burden of chronic conditions in this population is profound, both in occurrence and severity. Efforts to understand how to effectively decrease morbidity burden and incorporate effective care coordination and rehabilitation models to optimize longevity and well-being in this population should be a priority,” Dr. Phillips said in a press release from the American Association for Cancer Research.Find the full study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention (doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-1418).