Morgan McCann will never forget seeing the doctor just before her 10th birthday for pain in her right leg.
"He did an X-ray and you could clearly see that the bone was jagged because something was eating away at the surface of the bone," McCann said.
Morgan had bone cancer. Multiple surgeries, including a hip replacement, and chemotherapy saved her life.
Now, a new long-term study from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital shows most childhood cancer survivors have serious health issues as adults.
"Changes in lung function, heart function, the function of the glands that produce hormones and other brain and nerve function that may affect how they think and process information," said Dr. Melissa Hudson, an author of the study.
Researchers examined 1,700 childhood cancer survivors, including Morgan, and found 98 percent had at least one chronic health condition.
Advances in cancer treatment have led to better childhood survival rates. Currently, there are 400,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States. But chemotherapy drugs and radiation are putting those patients at high risk for other problems.
"I know my organs are probably more sensitive than other people's after being blasted with chemotherapy for a year straight," McCann said.
Researchers say these findings are a wake-up call to aging survivors.
"If you notice something is wrong, pursue it immediately," McCann advised.
Morgan McCann is now 29. She gets annual checkups and scans of her heart and she also makes sure she eats healthy and exercises.
Researchers say these findings should also be a reminder for health care providers to more closely monitor childhood survivors for cancer-related health risks.
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