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Most teen survivors of childhood cancer are well adjusted

Tara Brinkman, PhD

Tara Brinkman, Ph.D., an assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control.

Here is another way that adolescent survivors of childhood cancer are like their peers who did not have cancer: Most are well adjusted.

“Of the almost 4,000 survivors in this study, the majority did not have elevated symptoms of behavioral, emotional or social problems. This is really good news,” said Tara Brinkman, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control.

Data from the federally funded Childhood Cancer Survivor Study contained other lessons.

When psychological symptoms were reported, researchers found the patterns of symptoms were often the same among survivors who shared similar cancer treatments or the same late effects of treatment. For example, reports of depression, anxiety, social withdrawal and poor attention were more common among survivors treated with brain irradiation than among other survivors. In contrast, headstrong behavior and attention problems in combination were more evident in survivors who did not have brain irradiation.

The findings also suggest that some teen survivors may benefit from more comprehensive mental health screening to find and address symptoms while they are still young.

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Read the news release.

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