DegreeDiary

Highlighting Support for Childhood Cancer Survivors

With major advances in treatment and care, children with cancer have greater chances of surviving than they did over a decade ago, but a recent report revealed that many children with cancer will likely face severe medical complications in the future, regardless of whether they are cured of the disease.

Over 80% of childhood cancer survivors manage to overcome cancer when given the proper treatment. However, statistics indicate that over 420,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S are likely to endure further health-related challenges as they enter adulthood, such as cardiac failure, disability and even a second cancer diagnosis.

The study revealed that children diagnosed with cancer between the years 1970 and 1986 who managed to conquer the disease were over five times more likely to have been placed on a federal disability assistance program as opposed to those with no history of cancer at all.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and was the first intensive cancer-related compilation to reveal information of this kind. It is an informative and helpful yet equally shocking insight, one that has caught the attention of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

According to the researchers, the study placed focus on the social demographic and treatment traits of survivors that were linked to a higher rate of enrollment in federal support programs.

It was discovered that the youngest survivors, diagnosed at age 4 and under, were up to seven times more likely to be placed on a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program than those diagnosed in their adolescence. It was also noted that female survivors and those that had undergone cranial radiation treatment had greater chances of ending up on SSI as well.

Two federal disability programs were looked at in order to find current and formerly enrolled survivors. The first was the SSI, for survivors with limited incomes and no work history, and the other was the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program – a federal grant that pays disability benefits to adults that have worked and paid social security taxes.

This information was compared with that of individuals currently part of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which is an initiative by the National Cancer Institute that followed over 14,000 cancer-surviving children and teenagers.

It was found that 13.5% of the childhood cancer survivors either are or formerly had been enrolled on the SSI while another 10% featured on the SSDI. It was also noted that survivors are placed more frequently on the SSI than the rest of the U.S population – 7.3% as opposed to the standard 2.5%.

The study highlights the need for support strategies and structures to be put in place for cancer survivors. For many childhood cancer survivors, the struggle doesn't end after treatment. In many cases there is a host of under-recognized health implications that follow. It is unclear how many cancer survivors have access to federal support programs, but the study identifies the need to recognize the long-term impact that cancer can have on the lifestyles of survivors and their ability support themselves.

 

Image Courtesy: Flickr's Creative Commons

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