Learning About the Health of Young Cancer Survivors With All of Us

Last Reviewed: April 4, 2024

Key Points

  • All of Us participants are helping researchers better understand the long-term health of people who had cancer as a teen or young adult.
  • Young cancer survivors were more likely than people who never had cancer to have neuropathy, chronic fatigue, memory loss, and epilepsy. 
  • These conditions can continue to affect young cancer survivors 10 years after they were diagnosed with cancer.

Nearly 86,000 teens and young adults in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. People in this age group have unique challenges. Yet this group is not studied as much as children or adults who have had cancer. More research is needed to understand the long-term health challenges that young cancer survivors often face.

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers compared All of Us data from young cancer survivors with data from other All of Us participants who never had cancer. The results showed that four conditions that affect the brain or nerves were more common in young cancer survivors than in participants who have never had cancer. Some survivors were still being treated for these neurological conditions 10 years after their cancer diagnosis.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Medicine.*

Studying Long-Term Health

Researchers looked at data from nearly 800 All of Us participants who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 39. They also looked at data from about 3,150 participants who never had cancer and were similar in age and other aspects. The study was based on data from participants’ electronic health records (EHRs) and responses to a survey about their personal health history.

The researchers counted which participants had health conditions that affect the brain, nerves, mood, and behavior. Young cancer survivors were more likely than the other participants to have the following neurological conditions:

Some young cancer survivors were receiving treatment for these health conditions up to 10 years after their cancer diagnosis. This suggests that young cancer survivors may need different ways of managing these conditions than other groups.

Young cancer survivors were not more likely than the other participants to have mood and behavior problems, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Supporting Research and Health

This study includes more young cancer survivors than past studies have. It also looks into the survivors’ health concerns many years after their cancer diagnosis. Thanks to All of Us participants, we have a more complete picture of the health of people who had cancer as a teen or young adult.

The study raises questions for future research. For example, did the survivors’ neurological conditions begin before or after their cancer? Are some types of cancer or cancer treatments more often associated with neurological conditions later in life than others?

Researchers can also investigate treatments that will work particularly for people who were treated for cancer as teens or young adults.

*Updates to align this publication with All of Us publication policies are pending. All of Us will add a link to the updated publication once it becomes available.

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