Childhood Cancer Survivors Hospitalized Frequently Years After Cancer Treatment

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Anne C. Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH

Survivors of childhood cancers were hospitalized more often and for longer durations because of blood disorders and other problems, many years after cancer treatment was completed, compared with the general population, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

“Our findings demonstrate that childhood cancer survivors face ongoing problems that can lead to hospitalization, even for those who are decades past their original cancer diagnosis. This can negatively impact their quality of life,” said Anne C. Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Cancer-Focused Care

“Regular cancer-focused health care is important for identifying health problems for survivors throughout their lives,” Dr. Kirchhoff added. “Patients and families who have experienced childhood cancer should obtain a cancer treatment summary and recommendations for follow-up care from their oncologist, and coordinate their follow-up care with their oncology and primary care doctors to ensure their health-care needs are being managed.”

In this study, survivors were 52% more likely to be hospitalized, and their number of admissions was 67% higher, compared with age- and sex-matched individuals who did not have cancer. Survivors were also 35% more likely to have stayed longer every time they were hospitalized, compared with controls.

Common reasons for hospitalizations for survivors compared with the controls included conditions like blood disorders (such as anemia) and cancer, although it is unclear if this was for their original cancer diagnosis or new cancers. Infections, nervous system problems, and respiratory problems were other leading reasons for hospitalization.

Dr. Kirchhoff and colleagues will conduct further analyses to better understand the reasons survivors are hospitalized and their hospital-related costs. ■

Disclosure: This study was funded by a Huntsman Cancer Institute Cancer Control and Population Sciences Research Award, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, a Primary Children’s Medical Foundation Career Development Award, the Utah Cancer Registry, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Kirchhoff reported no potential conflicts of interest.


1. Kirchhoff AC, Fluchel MN, Wright J, et al: Risk of hospitalization for survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 23:1280-1289, 2014.