Two studies released this week paint a good news/bad news picture of life after cancer.
The good news is that the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. is expected to increase by about 30 percent during the next decade to nearly 18 million, according to a report by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
The bad news, however, is that people who have survived bouts with cancer in their teens and 20s are much more likely to experience chronic, long-term health problems — even decades after they go into remission. That’s according to a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Cancer survivors will continue to need some degree of medical surveillance or services they wouldn’t need if they hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer,” said Elizabeth Ward, the researcher who authored the American Cancer Society study. “The growing size of this population will present a challenge to the health care system.”
The CDC researchers found that adults who were diagnosed with cancer in adolescence or young adulthood are twice as likely to be disabled, have chronic conditions, be diagnosed with asthma, and have poor mental and physical health. They’re also more likely to be smokers, to be obese, have high blood pressure, and to forgo health care because of cost, according to the study.
Nearly one-half of American cancer survivors are age 70 or older, while only 5 percent are 40 or younger. The median age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 66.
Read more from Kaiser Health News.