(HealthDay News) — When compared with peers without a history of cancer, children with cancer do not appear to have increased posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), according to research published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sean Phipps, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, and colleagues used structured diagnostic interviews of children and their parents, as well as surveys of children, for 255 children with cancer and 101 matched peers. The researchers sought to assess posttraumatic stress and psychological growth in children with cancer.

The researchers found, by diagnostic interviews of children with cancer, that 0.4% met current criteria for PTSD, and 2.8% met lifetime criteria for PTSD. According to the results of diagnostic interviews with parents, 1.6% of children with cancer met current criteria for PTSD, and 5.9% met lifetime criteria for PTSD. For these rates, no significant differences were observed between children with cancer and matched peers. 

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Specific to cancer-related events, children with cancer, compared with controls, had lower PTSS (P = 0.002) and higher perceived growth (P < 0.001).

“The current data provide evidence of both resilience and growth in relation to the cancer experience,” the researchers wrote. “Not only do children with cancer report low levels of PTSS (resilience), but they also report higher levels of perceived benefit (growth) than do their peers.”


  1. Phipps S, Klosky JL, Long A, et al. Posttraumatic Stress and Psychological Growth in Children With Cancer: Has the Traumatic Impact of Cancer Been Overestimated? J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.49.8212.