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Pediatrics. 2010 May;125(5):e1124-34. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2308.

Prevalence and predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder in adult survivors of childhood cancer.

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Department of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.



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.


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.


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]).


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.

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