Go to content

Young adults who survive cancer hospitalized more often than the general population even 20 years after cancer treatment ends


Advances in the treatment of adolescents and young adults with cancer have resulted in higher survival rates and longer life expectancies. But up to 20 years after people in the 20-44 age group are declared cancer-free, they still have more hospitalizations than the general public, new research has found.

“Even when young adults survive cancer, the cancer still has an impact on their lives and their long-term health,” said Dr. Nancy Baxter, a colorectal surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital and a senior adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. “And this age group still has a lot of life to live.”

In a paper published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Baxter found that young adult cancer survivors overall were hospitalized 1.5 times as often as people in a control group.

For all malignancies, except for melanoma and testicular cancers, the rate of hospitalization was significantly higher than the control population.

The rate of hospitalization was twice as high as the control population or greater for survivors of gastrointestinal cancer, leukemia, urological malignancies such as bladder or kidney cancer, colorectal, brain and lymphoma.

The results were similar to what previous studies have found in children diagnosed with cancer. As many as two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors develop a long-term complication from the surgery, chemotherapy or radiation used in cancer treatment.

Dr. Baxter said she believed this was the largest study ever published involving young adults who survived cancer. Her team examined data from the Ontario Cancer Registry from 1992-1999 on 20,275 people who had their first cancer diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 44 and had lived five years cancer-free. They were compared with 101,344 non-cancer controls.

Dr. Baxter said having a better understanding of health-care utilization and late effects in the young adult cancer population may help counsel young adult survivors on their future quality of life, identify areas where preventative strategies could be employed and highlight the need, where treatment options exist, to consider alternatives not associated with long-term health consequences.

This study was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

“Hospitalization rates among survivors of young adult malignancies,” was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Author block: Devon P Richardson, Corinne Daly, Rinku Sutradhar, Lawrence F. Paszat, Andrew S Wilton, Linda Rabeneck and Nancy N. Baxter.

St Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future healthcare professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario

For further information please contact:

  • Leslie Shepherd
  • Manager, Media Strategy
  • St. Michael's Hospital
  • [email protected]
  • 416-864-6094


Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites

Read the Journal Article