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Healthy lifestyle choices can help survivors live longer


Cancer survivors can face long-term health problems from treatment, but healthy behaviors can reduce their risk of early death. 

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For cancer survivors, knowing how to stay healthy is important. A new study shows how they can increase their chances of living a long life.

Five-year survival rates have gotten better over time. But survivors still tend to have more health problems than those without cancer. These problems increase as survivors age and can shorten their lifespans. Scientists studied the effects of healthy habits and medical problems on patient survival.  This helps them discover things that survivors can do to live longer and healthier lives.

Scientists followed 34,230 survivors of childhood cancer. By age 40, more than 20% of people in the study died, often from early-onset health problems. The most common causes of death included second cancers, heart disease, and stroke. 

Researchers found that leading a healthy lifestyle (exercising, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight) may lead to longer lives for cancer survivors. Avoiding the development of high blood pressure and diabetes was also linked to a longer life.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a childhood cancer survivor, ask about your health risks after treatment. You can help improve your chance of long-term health if you:

  • Lead a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly, stay a healthy weight.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Get regular screenings for late effects of cancer therapy, especially those related to the heart and other organs.
  • Tell your doctor about symptoms or problems you have. Health problems found early are easier to treat.
  • Follow your survivorship care plan.
  • Follow your doctor’s directions about taking care of any medical conditions.

Childhood cancer survivors can have health problems long after treatment. If you know your risks and lower them by acting, you can improve your health and lead a better, more active life.


Dixon SB, Liu Q, Chow EJ, Oeffinger KC, Nathan PC, Howell RM, Leisenring WM, Ehrhardt MJ, Ness KK, Krull KR, Mertens AC, Hudson MM, Robison LL, Yasui Y, Armstrong GT. Specific causes of excess late mortality and association with modifiable risk factors among survivors of childhood cancer: a report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort. Lancet. 2023 Apr 29;401(10386):1447-1457. 

Read the paper