PURPOSE: This study investigates physical performance limitations for sports and daily activities in recently diagnosed childhood cancer survivors and siblings.
METHODS: The Swiss Childhood Cancer Survivor Study sent a questionnaire to all survivors (≥ 16 years) registered in the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry, who survived >5 years and were diagnosed 1976-2003 aged <16 years. Siblings received similar questionnaires. We assessed two types of physical performance limitations: 1) limitations in sports; 2) limitations in daily activities (using SF-36 physical function score). We compared results between survivors diagnosed before and after 1990 and determined predictors for both types of limitations by multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: The sample included 1038 survivors and 534 siblings. Overall, 96 survivors (9.5%) and 7 siblings (1.1%) reported a limitation in sports (Odds ratio 5.5, 95%CI 2.9-10.4, p<0.001), mainly caused by musculoskeletal and neurological problems. Findings were even more pronounced for children diagnosed more recently (OR 4.8, CI 2.4-9.6 and 8.3, CI 3.7-18.8 for those diagnosed <1990 and ≥ 1990, respectively; p=0.025). Mean physical function score for limitations in daily activities was 49.6 (CI 48.9-50.4) in survivors and 53.1 (CI 52.5-53.7) in siblings (p<0.001). Again, differences tended to be larger in children diagnosed more recently. Survivors of bone tumors, CNS tumors and retinoblastoma and children treated with radiotherapy were most strongly affected.
CONCLUSION: Survivors of childhood cancer, even those diagnosed recently and treated with modern protocols, remain at high risk for physical performance limitations. Treatment and follow-up care should include tailored interventions to mitigate these late effects in high-risk patients.