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Academia and the Profession |

Childhood Cancer Survivors' Knowledge of Their Diagnosis and Treatment

Julianne Byrne, PhD; Suzanne Lewis, MD; Louis Halamek, MD; Roger R. Connelly, MS; and John J. Mulvihill, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: Julianne Byrne, PhD, Clinical Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Executive Plaza North, Room 400, Bethesda, MD 20892.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Byrne and Mulvihill: Clinical Epidemiology Branch, and Mr. Connelly, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.

Dr. Halamek: Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 42nd and Dewey Avenue, Omaha, NE 68105.

Dr. Lewis: McMaster University Medical Center, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 325.


Ann Intern Med. 1989;110(5):400-403. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-110-5-400
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Purpose: To determine what factors correlated with the failure of the survivors of childhood cancer to acknowledge their diagnosis.

Study Design: A follow-up interview with 1928 adults who survived childhood cancer to evaluate the late effects of cancer and its treatment. Cancer was diagnosed in these survivors between 1945 and 1974 before they reached age 20; subjects had to have survived for at least 5 years and to have reached age 21.

Results: Fourteen percent of the survivors of malignancies at sites other than the central nervous system said that they had not had cancer. This proportion differed according to the survivors' race, the type of tumor and its treatment, the level of their father's education, the year of diagnosis, and the center where the tumor was diagnosed. Among survivors who knew that they had cancer previously, however, most (81%) correctly identified the type of treatment they had received.

Conclusions: Physicians should be aware that a substan tial proportion of long-term survivors of childhood cancer may not reveal their past history of cancer and its treatment, and possible clues to the cause of the presenting condition may thus be missed.

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