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Childhood Cancer Raises the Survivors' Death Rate: Hank George

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People who fight off cancer when they are children or young adults may have to keep on fighting: They seem to be much more likely than otherwise similar people to go on to die of non-cancer causes relatively early in life.

Hank George, a longtime National Underwriter Life & Health underwriting columnist, writes about that possibility in a new commentary.

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George looks at the underwriting implications of a recent research journal article on the noncancer mortality rate among people who learned that they had cancer when they were adolescents or young adults. The researchers compared the childhood cancer survivors’ noncancer mortality rates with the age-adjusted mortality rates for other people their age.

The childhood cancer survivors had an 84% greater risk of death from non-cancer causes.

The risk of non-cancer death was especially high for survivors of leukemia and Hodgkin lymphomas.

The odds of dying were 5.26 times higher than normal for people who had survived leukemia, and 6.33 times higher for people who had survived Hodgkin leukemia.

One reason may be the effect of infectious disease on survivors of blood-related cancers, George writes.

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