Developing psychosocial aftercare for children surviving cancer and their families

Acta Oncol. 2000;39(1):23-31. doi: 10.1080/028418600430932.


More children than ever are surviving childhood cancer. However, the medical and psychosocial consequences of their longer survival are becoming clear for former patients and their families, underlining the need for aftercare. Whereas the need for medical follow-up programs is widely recognized, psychosocial aftercare is still in its infancy. This paper presents a systematic approach to developing psychosocial aftercare based on evidence from research studies. First, the family member most in need of aftercare is identified. Research findings indicate that the child surviving cancer is most seriously affected by the cancer experience, followed by mothers and fathers, whereas siblings are least affected. Accordingly, former patients and parents should be the primary target groups. Second, different types of interventions need to be developed based on the nature of the problems of the target groups and the individual's level of adjustment. Finally, psychosocial aftercare programs need to demonstrate their effectiveness in reducing late effects and improving the quality of life after treatment ends. If our aim is to cure the child truly of cancer, than the development of psychosocial aftercare, its clinical application, and evaluation of its effectiveness will be the challenge for paediatric psycho-oncology in years to come.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / trends*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Pediatrics / trends
  • Program Development
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Support*
  • Survival