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Study Suggests Childhood Cancer Survivors More Likely to Develop PTSD

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideMay 7, 2010

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In a new study published in the May issue of Pediatrics, young adults who survived a childhood cancer were four times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than their siblings. The study looked at more than 6,500 people over the age of 18 who were diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 1986. The study also looked at nearly 400 siblings who served as the control group.

A new study suggests childhood cancer survivors are more likely to develop PTSD.
Photo courtesy Jelle Boontje

Researchers found that nine-percent of the cancer survivors displayed symptoms of PTSD, while only two-percent of those in the control group reported similar symptoms. These symptoms affected normal functioning and included hyper-vigilance, extreme anxiety, increased arousal levels, phobias and avoidance of things that reminded them of their cancer treatment.

Previous studies have found a lower incidence of PTSD symptoms in cancer survivors. The authors of this new study suggest that advances in treatment and more supportive care may account for this discrepency. Cancer survivors in the current study went through treatment procedures during the 1970s and 1980s, so their regimines were potentially harsher and more toxic.

"People who had more intense treatment are more likely to have these symptoms because their treatment was more traumatic," explains Dr. Margaret Stuber, lead author of the study and professor psychiatry and biobehavioral science.

"Childhood cancer survivors, like others with PTSD, have been exposed to an event that made them feel very frightened or helpless or horrified," Stuber suggests. "This study demonstrates that some of these survivors are suffering many years after successful treatment. Development of PTSD can be quite disabling for cancer survivors. This is treatable and not something they have to just live with."

Learn More About This Study:

  • Survivors of Childhood Cancers Four Times More Likely to Develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Science Daily

Related Reading


M. L. Stuber, K. A. Meeske, K. R. Krull, W. Leisenring, K. Stratton, A. E. Kazak, M. Huber, B. Zebrack, S. H. Uijtdehaage, A. C. Mertens, L. L. Robison, L. K. Zeltzer. Prevalence and Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer. Pediatrics, 2010; 125 (5): e1124 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2308


May 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm
(1) gerry :

do you think that these findings might also include other diseases, that are just as horrific?
I have a minor skin condition, NF1 and consequently have had surgery at least 40 times, the tumors grow in spurts, it seems you have 10 or so cut off then a couple of years later you need to have 15 or 20 cut off,
just talking out loud

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