(HealthDay News) — Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors — those ages 15 to 29 years at their first diagnosis — report higher rates of unhealthy behaviors, chronic medical conditions, and less access to health care than respondents who never had cancer, and may be at risk for poor long-term health outcomes, according to a study published online June 11 in Cancer.

Eric Tai, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and associates surveyed 2009 data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and identified 4,054 AYA cancer survivors (median age at time of interview, 40.2 years) and 345,592 individuals without a history of cancer (median age at time of interview, 42.9 years) to compare self-reported health factors that place them at risk for associated long-term morbidity and mortality.

Compared to participants with no cancer history, the researchers found that AYA survivors had a higher prevalence for smoking, (26 versus 18 percent), obesity (31 versus 27 percent), cardiovascular disease (14 versus 7 percent), hypertension (35 versus 29 percent), asthma (15 versus 8 percent), disability (36 versus 18 percent), poor mental health (20 versus 10 percent), and poor physical health (24 versus 10 percent). Cancer survivors were also more likely to not receive medical care because of associated costs (24 versus 15 percent).

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“AYA cancer survivors commonly reported adverse behavioral, medical, and health care access characteristics that may lead to poor long-term medical and psychosocial outcomes,” the authors write. “Increased adherence to established follow-up guidelines may lead to improved health among AYA cancer survivors.”

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