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National Cancer Institute

Post Treatment Health: The Landscape

Presentation 1: Understanding the Late Effects of Cancer Treatment: A Medical Oncologist’s Perspective

Patricia A. Ganz, M.D.
Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Center
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

  • Cancer treatment can have serious long-term consequences on multiple body systems, including but not limited to: bone and soft tissue (osteoporosis, abnormal growth); mouth (damage to enamel, dry mouth); central nervous system (neurocognitive deficits, learning disabilities); eyes (cataracts, dry eyes); cardiovascular system (coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis); lungs (decreased lung volume); and reproductive system (infertility).
  • Risk of long-term effects of cancer treatment is influenced by the age of the patient, type of cancer, and type of treatment received; the degree of risk to an individual patient cannot be precisely predicted.
  • Late effects of cancer treatment such as fatigue and lack of physical vigor are not life-threatening, but can seriously affect survivors’ quality-of-life.
  • Research is needed to determine: (1) if late effects are due to treatment or disease, and (2) the biological mechanisms underlying the late effects.

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