Objective: This study compared the prevalence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with functional impairment and/or clinical distress, among very long-term survivors of childhood cancer and a group of healthy siblings.
Methods: A total of 6542 childhood cancer survivors >18 years of age who received diagnoses between 1970 and 1986 and 368 siblings of cancer survivors completed a comprehensive demographic and health survey.
Results: A total of 589 survivors (9%) and 8 siblings (2%) reported functional impairment and/or clinical distress in addition to the set of symptoms consistent with a full diagnosis of PTSD. Survivors had more than fourfold greater risk of PTSD, compared with siblings (odds ratio [OR]: 4.14 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.08-8.25]). With controlling for demographic and treatment variables, increased risk of PTSD was associated with educational level of high school or less (OR: 1.51 [95% CI: 1.16-1.98]), being unmarried (OR: 1.99 [95% CI: 1.58-2.50]), having annual income below $20,000 (OR: 1.63 [95% CI: 1.21-2.20]), and being unemployed (OR: 2.01 [95% CI: 1.62-2.51]). Intensive treatment also was associated with increased risk of full PTSD (OR: 1.36 [95% CI: 1.06-1.74]).
Conclusions: PTSD was reported significantly more often by survivors of childhood cancer than by sibling control subjects. Although most survivors apparently are faring well, a subset reported significant impairment that may warrant targeted intervention.