Factors associated with childhood cancer survivors’ knowledge about their diagnosis, treatment, and risk for late effects
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BACKGROUND: While most children with cancer survive their initial disease, cancer therapy places them at risk for late effects (LE). Knowledge of their diagnosis, treatment, and LE risk may motivate survivors to attend long-term follow-up care. The aims of this study were to examine knowledge of cancer history and future risks, and to identify factors associated with such knowledge, in a cohort of childhood cancer survivors. METHODS: Survivors (i.e., patients finished cancer treatment, regardless of time since completion) aged 15 to 26 years from three Canadian cancer centers were invited to complete a questionnaire that assessed knowledge of cancer history and potential LE of treatments, including five specific LE known to have considerable long-term health impact. Clinical data were extracted from hospital records and used to validate participants' answers. RESULTS: Of 250 participants, 16 (6%) were unable to name their cancer, 79 (32%) had partial or no knowledge of their therapy, and 83 (33%) were unaware of at least some of their risks for LE. Decreasing age (OR for increase in age = 1.2 (1.1-1.4)), having had a renal tumor compared to leukemia (OR = 0.3 (0.1-0.9)), and lacking knowledge about treatment (OR = 0.4 (0.2-0.9)) were associated with lack of knowledge of LE. Of the five, the most and least familiar LE was LE associated with impaired pulmonary function and risk of second malignancy, respectively. CONCLUSION: This study highlights knowledge deficits in survivors, specifically regarding their risk for LE. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Findings can be utilized to target survivors at risk for knowledge deficits.
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