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Keywords:

  • survivorship;
  • adult cancer;
  • late effects;
  • health

Abstract

Increasingly, prolonged survival follows the diagnosis of cancer. Cancer therapies result in complex and lasting health effects that create unique health-care needs for the survivors but are poorly understood (especially in survivors of adult cancers). Cancer survivors were asked to respond to a mailed health survey and provide medical and social information pertaining to their cancer experience. Information about demographics and perceived disease-related medical problems was analyzed. We analyzed the response of 5,836 survivors of adult cancers. Two-thirds of the responses came from women, and the response rate was 51% in both sexes. The mean interval since cancer diagnosis was 18.0 ± 8.5 years. Younger survivors and men were more likely to report that cancer had affected their health. The health effect most commonly reported by survivors was arthritis/osteoporosis (26% of respondents). Survivors of Hodgkin's disease prominently reported thyroid and lung problems (33.8% of responders with the diagnosis). Prior diagnosis of lymphoma was associated with frequent mention of memory loss (14.7%). The passage of time decreased some perceived effects (memory loss) but increased others (arthritis/osteoporosis, cataracts). Compared with the general population, the incidence of several age- and gender-adjusted health conditions in cancer survivors is different. This group of cancer survivors reported generally good health but outlined multiple lasting medical problems. The health survey described represents 1 approach to the development of comprehensive information about the health needs of cancer survivors. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.