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A long shadow of cancer

A new study finds that cancer casts a long shadow on the lives of survivors, harming their ability to work and perform daily chores more than a decade after diagnosis. Compared with people without the disease, cancer survivors feel sicker, miss work more often, are more likely to be disabled and bedridden and are less likely to be employed, according to a study in today's Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In a survey of more than 1,800 cancer survivors and nearly 5,500 people never diagnosed with the disease, 31% of survivors described their health as fair or poor, compared with 18% of other people. Cancer survivors more often suffered from a litany of ills, including arthritis, back or neck problems, fractures, high blood pressure and breathing problems. The study's lead author, Robin Yabroff of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), says she was surprised that problems lingered so long, even when cancer survivors were compared with people of the same age, sex and educational level. The study was based the 2000 National Health Interview Survey, conducted annually by the National Center for Health Statistics, informs USATODAY. According to Reuters, cancer can really mess up a person's life, even years after he or she has beaten the disease, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. Cancer survivors have poorer health, lose more days from work and have a generally lower quality of life than people who have never had cancer, the study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 9.8 million cancer patients and survivors are alive now in the United States. About 64 percent of adults and 79 percent of children now survive cancer for at least five years, the CDC says. These patients have not been studied much, but a series of reports have called for better coordination of care for cancer survivors, especially children. They have found that the harsh treatments often needed to beat cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, can themselves have lasting effects on health. Robin Yabroff of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality studied a questionnaire of 1,800 cancer survivors and nearly 5,500 people who never had cancer and matched for age, sex, and level of education. They found that 31 percent of cancer survivors reported having fair or poor health, compared to 18 percent of people who never had cancer, publishes Yahoo! News People who have survived cancer struggle with a lower quality of life, loss of productivity and more health limitations than those who never had the disease, researchers report. "Cancer survivors had more lost productivity and lower quality of life than did individuals who had never been diagnosed with cancer," said lead author Robin Yabroff, an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute. Yabroff noted this was true for all types of cancer, including survivors of breast, colon and prostate cancer. It was also the case regardless of how long ago the cancer had been diagnosed, she added.

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