St. Jude Psychologist Says Most Children with Cancer are Well-Adjusted

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 General News J E 4
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Sept. 18 Children undertreatment for cancer are generally emotionally well-adjusted and no moredepressed or anxious than other children their age, according to a researcherat St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In studies of depression, anxiety,posttraumatic stress and quality of life, children with cancers do as well as,and often better than their healthy peers.

"We see them as a flourishing population that has adapted to the stress ofhaving cancer and undergoing treatment," said Sean Phipps, Ph.D., a member ofthe St. Jude Division of Behavioral Medicine. "They become quite resilient tothe long- and short-term emotional and physical effects of their disease andthe treatments."

The unexpected finding that children with cancer are emotionally resilientis important because of the dramatic improvement in survival rates ofpediatric cancers. "There has been a shift in research toward the concerns oflong-term survivors of pediatric cancers," Phipps said. "The ability of thesechildren to cope with the after-effects of cancer is the major issue now. Whatwe are learning from this population might help us learn how to improve thequality of life of children who are not doing so well."

Phipps is the author of an article on adaptive styles in children withcancer that appears in the advanced online issue of "Journal of PediatricPsychology." The article, based on research done by his group and otherresearch teams around the country, was presented at the conference"Psychosocial and Neurocognitive Consequences of Childhood Cancer: A Symposiumin Tribute to Raymond K. Mulhern," held at St. Jude in September 2006, inhonor of the late Raymond K. Mulhern, Ph.D., a pioneer in psychologicalresearch in pediatric oncology at the hospital. The symposium's presentationswill also appear in a special December issue of the journal.

This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health andALSAC.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized forits pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and othercatastrophic diseases. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based inMemphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific andmedical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments notcovered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay.St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization. Formore information, please visit

SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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