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Long-Term Threat

Young cancer survivors face risks later

Childhood-cancer treatment is one of the success stories of the late 20th century. A child diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s had a 56 percent chance of surviving for 5 years. Today, that likelihood is nearly 80 percent. With that gain, however, doctors have noticed that cancer survivors seem prone to other life-threatening medical problems later. Recent studies confirm that survivors face a heightened danger of heart problems or another bout with cancer. In a cruel twist, the youngest cancer patients often face the greatest risk.

Up to 5 percent of childhood-cancer survivors get second cancers. That's several times the cancer risk that people in the general population face, National Cancer Institute data show.

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