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Keywords:

  • childhood cancer;
  • adolescent cancer;
  • late effects;
  • infections;
  • survivorship

BACKGROUND

Little is known about infections among adult survivors of childhood cancer. The authors report the occurrence of infections and risk factors for infections in a large cohort of survivors of childhood cancer.

METHODS

The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort was used to compare incidence rates of infections among 12,360 5-year survivors of childhood cancer with the rates of 4023 siblings. Infection-related mortality of survivors was compared with that of the US population. Demographic and treatment variables were analyzed using Poisson regression to determine the rate ratios (RRs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations with infectious complications.

RESULTS

Compared with the US population, survivors were at an increased risk of death from infectious causes (standardized mortality ratio [SMR], 4.2; 95% CI, 3.2-5.4), with the greatest risk observed among females (SMR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.5-6.9) and among those who had been exposed to total body irradiation (SMR, 7.8; 95% CI, 1.8-33.0). Survivors also reported higher rates than siblings of overall infectious complications (RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.4) and higher rates of all categories of infection.

CONCLUSIONS

Survivors of childhood cancer remain at elevated risk for developing infectious-related complications, and they have a higher risk of infection-related mortality years after therapy. Further investigation is needed to provide insight into the mechanisms for the observed excess risks. Cancer 2014;120:2514–2521. © 2014 American Cancer Society.