Achievement of life goals by adult survivors of modern treatment for childhood cancer

Cancer. 1991 Jan 1;67(1):206-13. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19910101)67:1<206::aid-cncr2820670134>;2-2.


To assess the impact of the diagnosis and modern treatment of childhood cancer on achievement of adult goals, the authors evaluated employment, health and life insurance coverage, marriage, divorce, and reproduction in 227 former pediatric cancer patients. Each area was evaluated in relation to a common set of disease and demographic factors that included age at follow-up, age at diagnosis, gender, marital status, history of disease recurrence, and diagnosis. Patients were younger than 20 years of age at diagnosis, and their diagnoses were made between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1984. The median age at diagnosis was 11.4 years, and the median age at follow-up was 26.6 years. The percentage of unemployed male respondents did not differ from population norms. The percentage of unemployed female respondents, however, was slightly higher than that of the United States population. Approximately 11% of the survivors reported some form of employment-related discrimination, a level significantly lower than that of prior reports. Company-offered health insurance was provided to 92.4% of full-time and 90.0% of part-time employed respondents. Life insurance was purchased by 60% of full-time employed men and 55% of women. These percentages were lower than those reported for the United States population. Twenty-four percent of those with life insurance had difficulty obtaining it. Fifty-eight percent of the subjects were married or lived as married. The percentages of married men and women were significantly lower than United States norms. Twenty percent of those who were married or lived as married have divorced or separated or no longer live as married. Women aged 20 to 24 years were less likely to marry, and women aged 35 to 44 years had a significantly higher frequency of divorce than similarly aged United States women. In general, the history of childhood cancer did not influence the decision to marry or live as married but was occasionally (20%) important in the decision to dissolve a marital relationship. Many former patients indicated that their diagnosis and treatment for childhood cancer influenced their decision to have children. The current study suggests that most former pediatric cancer patients achieve adult life goals. Additional research is necessary to define those populations at greatest risk of failure to achieve these goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insurance, Life
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproduction