Childhood cancer survivors may face early aging

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    Feeling exhausted? Having trouble getting off the couch? Many people might voice these complaints after a tough day at work. But for childhood cancer survivors, these symptoms may be signs of something more serious: premature aging.

    A surprising number of young adult survivors showed signs of early aging, or frailty, in a recent study conducted at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The study tested 1,922 survivors for strength, muscle mass, fatigue and other measures. In a comparison group of 341 adults who did not have cancer as children, no frailty was reported.

    Survivors should use these findings as motivation to take action, emphasized Kirsten Ness, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “This is an opportunity for them to take control and start working with their health care providers on ways to improve their fitness,” she said.

    The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, underscores the importance of work now underway at St. Jude on the best methods to combat frailty in childhood cancer survivors.

    November 18, 2013

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