Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) has become an increasingly important measure of research and treatment outcomes across all medical specialties. However, to date, there has not been an in-depth review of research relevant specifically to HRQoL in the populations of children and adolescents with cancer. In this review, the authors examine the effects of cancer on HRQoL from diagnosis to remission/survivorship and the end of life.
A literature search was conducted using Medline and PsycINFO for articles published from 2002 to 2011. Studies included patients from diagnosis to remission and also the terminally ill. Twenty-nine studies specifically addressing HRQoL were selected after reaching consensus and study quality check.
Children who are newly diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment or are terminally ill have impaired HRQoL. Survivors of childhood cancer have high HRQoL (with the exception of those who experienced medical comorbidity or PTSD). The authors found that demographic differences, cancer types, and treatment regimens, all significantly influence the negative impact of cancer on patients’ HRQoL.
There are specific and identifiable impacts of childhood cancer on patients’ HRQoL that are significant and complex across the span of the illness. There is a need for continued research in many areas related to this population, especially related to those with terminal illness in order to improve patient care.