Effects of Childhood Cancer Can Linger Long After Disease Is Gone
WebMD News Archive
"Adolescence is a very difficult time for anyone. They want to
be independent and away from their parents with their friends," Bashore tells
WebMD. "But for kids with cancer, it's even more difficult because they are
facing isolation and restrictions."
McKee says that he was old enough to understand the
consequences of Hodgkin's and the transplant, and he trusted the doctors. "It
made me realize they knew what they were doing."
But some older youngsters have more emotional problems
because they are aware of what's happening to them, Murray and Bashore
say. The authors of the Journal of Clinical Oncology paper echo this.
They say in earlier studies they found a much lower rate -- 4.5% -- of
posttraumatic stress disorder in cancer survivors aged 8 to 19. They believe
this may be because younger children aren't aware of their own mortality and
often don't realize the seriousness of the disease. The average age of the
young adults in the current study was 25.
The researchers warn that if young cancer survivors are too
anxious about their future, they may stop seeking the medical and psychological
care they need. The authors advise that healthcare professionals honestly
discuss long-term effects and establish a caring relationship with young adult
survivors to support their development.
This is certainly the aim of the Cook Children's program,
although Murray says they are still learning. "It will take years for our
specialty to refocus on survivors," he says. "We have spent the last 20 years
focused on the cure; now we're dealing with our success."
According to McKee, they already are doing a good job. "I go in
once a year for a checkup. It's not that I have to go in, but that I like to go
in," he says, adding that they give him emotional support and he looks forward
to seeing the doctors and nurses. "I don't know what I'll do if I have to go to
a regular adult hospital."