In a study (published in May 2010, in Pediatrics) investigators found that in a population of over 6,500 adults, who were survivors of childhood cancers, there was high percentage who reported signs and symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The authors compared the cancer survivors to those of their unaffected siblings, and noted that the survivors had a 4-fold higher risk of having PTSD.
This study is important for integrative oncologists as it clearly demonstrates the severe psychoemotional consequences that can occur following the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Although this study evaluated only survivors of childhood cancers, psychoemotional distress is common in patients of all ages with a diagnosis of cancer. Cancer counselors, support groups, stress reduction activities and spirituality (see here for definition) should all be considered as helpful options for our patients (and their loved ones.)