Physical and mental health status and health behaviors of childhood cancer survivors: Findings from the 2009 BRFSS survey


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to declare.



The growing number of childhood cancer survivors makes examination of their current physical and mental health status and health behaviors an important concern. Much of what is known about the long-term outcomes of childhood cancer survivors comes from the Childhood Cancer Cohort Study (CCSS) which uses sibling controls.


Using data from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, 651 childhood cancer survivors and 142,932 non-cancer peer controls were identified. The two groups were compared on a variety of physical and mental health status and health behavior variables using ANCOVA and binary logistic regression.


While controlling for differences in age, sex, and minority status, survivors significantly (P ≤ 0.001) had poorer socioeconomic outcomes, more comorbid conditions, lower life satisfaction, less social and emotional support, poorer general health, and reported more days per month of poor physical and mental health than non-cancer individuals. Survivors were more likely to report being a current smoker [odds ratio (OR) = 2.33; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.98–2.73; P < 0.001]; tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (OR = 1.79; 95% CI, 1.52–2.11; P < 0.001); and that at least one HIV situation applied to them (OR = 2.06; 95% CI, 1.55–2.74; P < 0.001). No significant differences were found between groups in regards alcohol use and diet.


Results support and extend previous findings reported by the CCSS. New findings regarding survivors' increased likelihood to engage in risky behaviors proposes new directions for future research. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2012; 58: 964–970. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.