Quality of life in young adult survivors of childhood cancer
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In recent years the necessity of measuring quality of life in childhood cancer survivors has been stressed. This paper gives an overview of the results of studies into the quality of life (QL) of young adult survivors of childhood cancer and suggest areas for future research. The review located 30 empirical studies published up to 2001. The results are described in terms of the following QL dimensions: physical functioning (QL, general health), psychological functioning (overall emotional functioning, depression and anxiety, self-esteem), social functioning (education, employment, insurance, living situation, marital status and family), and sexual functioning. Factors related to survivors' QL are reported: demographics and illness- and treatment related variables. Although the literature yields some inconsistent findings, a number of clear trends can be identified: (a) most survivors reported being in good health, with the exception of some bone tumour survivors; (b) most survivors function well psychologically; (c) survivors of CNS tumours and survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) are at risk for educational deficits; (d) job discrimination, difficulties in obtaining work and problems in obtaining health and life insurance were reported; (e) survivors have lower rates of marriage and parenthood; (f) survivors worry about their reproductive capacity and/or about future health problems their children might experience as a result of their cancer history. There is a need for methodological studies that measure QL among survivors of childhood cancer more precisely by taking into account the effects of the severity of the cancer and the long-term impact of different treatments. Additional data are needed to help us understand the needs of survivors and to identify those subgroups of survivors who are at greatest risk for the adverse sequelae of the disease and its treatment.
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