A study has found that young adult who survive most types of childhood cancers catch up both educationally and occupationally with their peers who had no cancer history, despite the former's time lost to treatment.
Cancer treatments can keep a child out of both school and social environments for considerable lengths of time.
The study, led by Cynthia Gerhardt, Ph.D., a principal investigator at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a faculty member at Ohio State University, looked at young adults who had survived cancer not related to the central nervous system.
"It is essential for the children to be able to integrate back with their peer group and be able to achieve some of the normal milestones that all of us value, such as being able to graduate or obtaining a job," Gerhardt said.
In the study, fifty-six cancer survivors completed questionnaires soon after their 18th birthdays, along with their parents and 60 peers who had not had cancer.
The results showed that although many cancer survivors missed a considerable amount of school or had to repeat a grade, by the age of 18 they had caught up to their peers in both school and work.
The researchers said that the severity and late effects of treatment, such as altered physical appearance or disability, might also play a role in how far behind a child might fall and their ability to catch up. Young adults who had more severe treatment and late effects were more likely to have a difficult time with educational outcomes.
"It's important to continue to monitor these areas of adjustments over time," Gerhardt said.
Children who appeared to have academic difficulties at diagnosis would not necessarily continue to have them, but the reverse is also true, she added.
Gerhardt suggested that parents need to 'stay connected with the treatment team and be aware of how the child is doing in these domains so we can provide the best services possible to them'.
The study appears in the Journal of Development and Behavioural Paediatrics.