Acute lymphoblastic leukemia or lymphoma
Children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or lymphoma report poorer emotional functioning, cognitive skills, autonomy, and family interaction than do children treated for non-CNS solid tumors.
For children whose disease or treatment directly involves the CNS, the risk of developing social and emotional problems appears much greater. Children with brain tumors are seen by their peers as being sick, fatigued, absent from school, and socially isolated and are less likely to be endorsed as friends by their peers.
Stem cell transplantation
Children receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are likely to experience declines in both social competence and self-concept over time.
Ethnicity can also play a role in quality of life.
Family factors appear to play a large role in child adjustment, with family cohesion and expressiveness associated with better outcomes and family conflict associated with poorer outcomes, particularly for children experiencing more-intensive treatment. Younger (pre-school) children are more likely to experience higher levels of externalizing behavior problems (e.g., aggression, impulsivity, or disruptive behavior) during treatment than do adolescents, but overall health-related quality of life (HRQL) reported by parents is better for younger children than for adolescents. Age may also serve as a mediator in the approach to coping and perceived level of control experienced by children being treated for cancer. While one group of researchers found that children with cancer reported significantly more use of avoidant coping strategies than did healthy children, regardless of age, another group found that the relationship between perceived control and problem-focused or emotion-focused coping (problem-focused coping related to higher appraisals of control) was mediated by age. A limited number of studies has been conducted in this area, and there are likely a number of additional mediators of adjustment-coping relationships that have not yet been examined.
Childhood Cancer Survivor Study
The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) is a large, ongoing, multicenter study of more than 10,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer and a comparison sibling control population. Using extensive survey methodology that links reports of current functioning to diagnosis, types of treatment, and other health factors associated with cancer and its treatment, the CCSS has selectively looked at long-term adjustment in large samples of young adults treated for similar childhood cancers. In one CCSS report, 2,778 survivors of solid tumors diagnosed in childhood and 2,925 siblings were surveyed using a standardized long-term follow-up questionnaire. Symptoms associated with depression, somatization, and anxiety were reported, along with demographic, health, and medical information. Few, if any, symptoms of psychological distress were reported by the cancer survivors, although survivors of solid-tumor cancers reported higher levels of global distress than did their siblings. There were no differences on these measures from population norms. For both cancer survivors and their siblings, female gender, lower education and income attainment, perceived poor health status, and reports of current health problems were all associated with higher levels of psychological distress symptoms.[Level of evidence: II]