The impact of cancer on the physical, psychological and social well-being of childhood cancer survivors

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2013 Apr;17(2):214-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2012.07.010. Epub 2012 Aug 13.


Purpose: Notwithstanding the advances in medical treatment, childhood cancer survivors are at risk of adverse physical, psychological and social effects of the cancer treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of cancer and its treatments on the physical, psychological and social well-being of Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivors.

Method: A total of 137 childhood cancer survivors (aged 9-16 years), who had their medical follow-up in an oncology out-patient clinic were invited to participate in the study. Participants were asked to respond to the standardized measures of depressive symptoms and self-esteem. Additionally, 15 participants from the group were selected for a semi-structured interview.

Results: The results revealed that more than half of the participants presented depressive symptoms. Results also found that the mean depressive symptom scores for childhood cancer survivors were statistically significant higher than those of school children without cancer (p = 0.01), while the mean self-esteem scores for the survivors were statistically significant lower (p < 0.01). Additionally, qualitative interviews indicated that cancer and its treatments have great impact on the daily life of childhood cancer survivors.

Conclusion: The study reveals that cancer and its treatments have a great impact on the physical, psychological and social well-being of survivors. It is essential for healthcare professionals to develop appropriate interventions with the aim of promoting physical, psychological and social well-being for these children. Most importantly, it is crucial to help them develop a positive view of the impact that the cancer experience has upon their lives.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aftercare
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept*
  • Survivors / psychology*