Adult psychosocial outcomes in long-term survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Wilms' tumour: a controlled study

Lancet. 2000 Apr 15;355(9212):1310-4. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02112-7.


Background: Variability in methods and deficits in design have contributed to conflicting findings about adult psychosocial functioning after childhood cancer. We did a controlled study of psychosocial outcomes in adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and Wilms' tumour to address previous methods limitations.

Methods: We assessed 102 survivors of childhood ALL and Wilms' tumour, who had been free from relapse for 5 years and were aged 19-30 years, and 102 unrelated healthy controls. We used standard measures of adult psychiatric disorder, interpersonal and social-role performance, and intellectual ability to assess past and current functioning.

Findings: Cancer survivors had no increased rates of psychiatric disorder. Mean scores of cancer survivors were significantly higher (indicating poorer functioning) than those of controls for love/sex relationships (mean difference 0.87 [95% CI 0.53-1.22]), friendships (0.37 [0.07-0.67]), non-specific social contacts (0.40 [0.20-0.60]), and day-to-day coping (0.35 [0.14-0.57]). Cancer survivors were more likely than controls to have a combination of deficits in love/sex relationships and friendships (ALL survivors odds ratio 10.83 [95% CI 3.87-30.82], Wilms' tumour survivors 4.85 [1.43-16.47]), which was associated with more recent treatment (p=0.005). Poor coping was associated with lower intellectual ability scores (p=0.018).

Interpretation: Childhood ALL and Wilms' tumour have long-term effects on interpersonal functioning and coping, probably mediated by different mechanisms. Prospective studies with each of these tumour groups are needed with similar adolescent and adult outcome measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Kidney Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / psychology*
  • Sick Role
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Wilms Tumor / psychology*