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Late Effects of the Central Nervous System

Table 3. Central Nervous System Late Effects continued...

Because avoidance of places and persons associated with the cancer is part of PTSD, the syndrome may interfere with obtaining appropriate health care. Those with PTSD perceived greater current threats to their lives or the lives of their children. Other risk factors include poor family functioning, decreased social support, and noncancer stressors.[62] (Refer to the PDQ summary on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder for more information about PTSD in cancer patients.)

Psychosocial outcomes among adolescent cancer survivors

Most research on late effects after cancer has focused on individuals with a cancer manifestation during childhood. Little is known about the specific impact of a cancer diagnosis with an onset in adolescence. In 820 survivors of cancer during adolescence (diagnosed between ages 15–18 years), when compared with an age-matched sample from the general population and a control group of adults without cancer, female survivors of adolescent cancers had achieved fewer developmental milestones in their psychosexual development, such as having their first boyfriend, or reached these milestones later. Male survivors were more likely to live with their parents when compared with same-sex controls. Adolescent cancer survivors were less likely to have ever married or had children. Compared with their age-matched samples, survivors were significantly older at their first marriage and at the birth of their first child.[63] Survivors in this cohort were also significantly less satisfied with their general and health-related life compared with a community-based control group. Impaired general and health-related life satisfaction were associated with somatic late effects, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and lower rates of post-traumatic growth.[64]

In a survey of 4,054 adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors and 345,592 respondents who had no history of cancer, AYA cancer survivors were more likely to smoke (26% vs. 18%), be obese (31% vs. 27%), and have chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease (14% vs. 7%), hypertension (35% vs. 9%), asthma (15% vs. 8%), disability (36% vs. 18%), and poor mental health (20% vs. 10%). They were also less likely to be receiving medical care because of cost (24% vs. 15%).[65]

The CCSS evaluated outcomes of 2,979 adolescent survivors and 649 siblings of cancer survivors to determine the incidence of difficulty in six behavioral and social domains (depression/anxiety, being headstrong, attention deficit, peer conflict/social withdrawal, antisocial behaviors, and social competence).[66] Survivors were 1.5 times (99% confidence interval [CI], 1.1–2.1) more likely than siblings to have symptoms of depression/anxiety and 1.7 times (99% CI, 1.3–2.2) more likely to have antisocial behaviors. Compared with siblings, scores in the depression/anxiety, attention deficit, and antisocial domains were significantly elevated in adolescents treated for leukemia or CNS tumors. In addition, survivors of neuroblastoma had difficulty in the depression/anxiety and antisocial domains. CNS-directed treatments (cranial radiation and/or intrathecal methotrexate) were specific risk factors for adverse behavioral outcomes.


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