Psychological Effects of Leukemia Upon Diagnosis

John Han-Chih Chang, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Has anyone ever conducted a study about the psychological effects of leukemia upon diagnosis in adolescents and then compared them to the psychological effects of leukemia upon diagnosis in children? If so, what were the conclusions? This interests me because I know that the psychological effects cannot be the same between adolescents and pre-adolescents due to different points in life, and different experiences.  
Thank you.

John Han-Chih Chang, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistant, responds:

Wendy Hobbie, RN, CRNP, Coordinator of the Survivorship Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Associate Program Director of the Pediatric Oncology Program at the University of Penn, School of Nursing, responds: This is a very insightful question. Most would agree that the diagnosis of cancer is a harrowing event for any family. The child, whether they are 6 or 14 will be going through a trauma. The developmental stage of the child may influence the perception of the cancer diagnosis and may impact their reaction to the diagnosis. As far as I know there are not studies that compare the psychological reaction of children to adolescents at the time of diagnosis.

Here at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia we have conducted studies of children between the ages of 12-18 years who are off therapy, for the psychological impact of a the cancer diagnosis. With this population, age at diagnosis was not a factor in their current reaction to their previous diagnosis of cancer.


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