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September 24, 2003

Health Status of Childhood Cancer Survivors: Cure Is More Than the Eradication of Cancer

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: The Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.

JAMA. 2003;290(12):1641-1643. doi:10.1001/jama.290.12.1641

Children with cancer become adults who had cancer. Cancer occurs in approximately 1 of 300 to 350 young people before age 20 years in the United States, a seemingly small number compared with the number of adults afflicted with cancer.1 Yet with 5-year, event-free survival rates exceeding 75%,2 1 of 500 young adults (aged 20-35 years) in the United States have had a diagnosis of cancer before age 20 years. As these individuals become adults, the cancer diagnosis may recede into the past, but the long-term effects on health and perceived health status continue into the future. It is not uncommon to speak of curing cancer, but cure is the restoration of health. While cancer can be eradicated, survivors must be restored to health that lasts for decades. Five-year survival is only the beginning, not the end point of successful treatment.