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Nearly half of cancer survivors die from other disorders, according to a study reported at the AACR Annual Meeting (Abstract LB 339). Researchers examined data on 1,807 cancer survivors who participated in the 1988-1994 and 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). They were followed for a median of seven years, during which time 776 of them died.

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Fifty-one percent died of cancer and 49% from other causes. Cardiovascular disease was responsible for 69% of the non-cancer deaths. Chronic lower respiratory diseases claimed 15% of their lives, and Alzheimer's disease and diabetes were each responsible for 4% of non-cancer deaths.


Said Yi Ning, MD, ScD, Associate Research Member at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center: "Cancer, in general, is regarded as one of the most life threatening diseases. In the past decade, with the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for cancer early detection, prevention, and treatment, cancer survivors are now living much longer and do not die directly from cancer, but rather, from other diseases and complications. It therefore becomes increasingly important to understand major causes of death among cancer survivors to improve the quality of life and prolong life expectancy of cancer survivors....Our results showed that although cancer is the major cause of death among cancer survivors, approximately half of participants died from other diseases and complications, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Clinicians and cancer survivors should pay attention to the prevention and treatment of other diseases and complications."