Prepping for Treatment
June 19, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Children Are Not Little Adults
June 19, 2013 – Laura Beil
Autumn Colbert: A Daughter Undaunted
June 19, 2013 – Don Vaughan
The Power of Positive Thinking
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
The Health Hypothesis
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
Encouraging Words
June 18, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Andropause & Menopause
June 19, 2013 – Barbara Sadick
Treatment Snapshot
June 19, 2013 – Lacey Marlow
Tracking Down Infections
June 19, 2013 – Charlotte Huff
Susie's Story
June 19, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Robert A. Kyle, MD
June 19, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Qi Gong May Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients
June 19, 2013 – Elizabeth Whittington
And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together
June 19, 2013 – Katherine Lagomarsino
Finding a Clinical Trial Just Got Easier
June 19, 2013 – Jon Garinn
Renewed Focus on Smoking Cessation
June 19, 2013 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Race to End Women’s Cancer
June 19, 2013 – Jon Garinn
Genetic Variations Found in ALL Patients of Different Ethnicities
June 19, 2013 – Katherine Lagomarsino
Hospitals Need a Menu Makeover
June 19, 2013 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Jolie’s Mastectomy Raises Awareness, Prompts Debate
June 19, 2013 – Lindsay Ray
Cancer Clusters and Congress
June 19, 2013 – Lena Huang
ASCO Updates
June 19, 2013 – Staff Reports
Know Your Options
June 19, 2013 – Carol Marcusen
Transcending Cure with Care
June 19, 2013 – Anne Falgoust Ott
Pipeline
June 18, 2013 – Lindsay Ray
Grapefruit Juice: Forbidden Fruit?
June 19, 2013 – Jeanne Erdmann
Up All Night?
June 19, 2013 – Lacey Marlow
Cancer Overtakes Heart Disease As Leading Cause Of Death In Hispanic Population
June 19, 2013 – Roxanne Nelson
Letters From Readers
June 19, 2013
Message From the Editor
June 19, 2013 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Silver Linings in Caregiving
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
Managing Expectations
June 18, 2013 – Barbara Sadick
Mind Over Matters
June 19, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Check Please: Choosing the Best Hospital for Your Cancer Surgery
June 18, 2013 – Charlotte Huff
Heart of the Matter: Cardiac Toxicity
June 17, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Vital Signs: Recognizing and Managing Distress
June 18, 2013 – Laura Beil
Treating Multiple Myeloma From Every Angle
June 18, 2013 – Heather L. Van Epps, PhD
Prepping for Treatment
June 19, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Currently Viewing
Children Are Not Little Adults
June 19, 2013 – Laura Beil
The Power of Positive Thinking
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
The Health Hypothesis
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
Encouraging Words
June 18, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Andropause & Menopause
June 19, 2013 – Barbara Sadick
Treatment Snapshot
June 19, 2013 – Lacey Marlow
Tracking Down Infections
June 19, 2013 – Charlotte Huff
Susie's Story
June 19, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Robert A. Kyle, MD
June 19, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Qi Gong May Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients
June 19, 2013 – Elizabeth Whittington
And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together
June 19, 2013 – Katherine Lagomarsino
Finding a Clinical Trial Just Got Easier
June 19, 2013 – Jon Garinn
Renewed Focus on Smoking Cessation
June 19, 2013 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Race to End Women’s Cancer
June 19, 2013 – Jon Garinn
Genetic Variations Found in ALL Patients of Different Ethnicities
June 19, 2013 – Katherine Lagomarsino
Hospitals Need a Menu Makeover
June 19, 2013 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Jolie’s Mastectomy Raises Awareness, Prompts Debate
June 19, 2013 – Lindsay Ray
Cancer Clusters and Congress
June 19, 2013 – Lena Huang
ASCO Updates
June 19, 2013 – Staff Reports
Know Your Options
June 19, 2013 – Carol Marcusen
Transcending Cure with Care
June 19, 2013 – Anne Falgoust Ott
Pipeline
June 18, 2013 – Lindsay Ray
Grapefruit Juice: Forbidden Fruit?
June 19, 2013 – Jeanne Erdmann
Up All Night?
June 19, 2013 – Lacey Marlow
Cancer Overtakes Heart Disease As Leading Cause Of Death In Hispanic Population
June 19, 2013 – Roxanne Nelson
Letters From Readers
June 19, 2013
Message From the Editor
June 19, 2013 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Silver Linings in Caregiving
June 19, 2013 – Jane Hill
Managing Expectations
June 18, 2013 – Barbara Sadick
Mind Over Matters
June 19, 2013 – Don Vaughan
Check Please: Choosing the Best Hospital for Your Cancer Surgery
June 18, 2013 – Charlotte Huff
Heart of the Matter: Cardiac Toxicity
June 17, 2013 – Kathy LaTour
Vital Signs: Recognizing and Managing Distress
June 18, 2013 – Laura Beil
Treating Multiple Myeloma From Every Angle
June 18, 2013 – Heather L. Van Epps, PhD

Children Are Not Little Adults

Children also experience distress, but a child's risks and coping mechanisms depend largely on age and maturity level.

BY Laura Beil
PUBLISHED June 19, 2013

Toddlers know they are ill, but they may not understand why they need to endure multiple needle sticks and other painful procedures. Teenagers may worry about how cancer or its treatments affect appearance and peer relationships. The variability makes treating distress in younger patients particularly complex.

Even screening can be more of a challenge. Children are not going to fill out a questionnaire, and parents may have a hard time gauging a child’s emotional state. They are not little adults.

"Normally, what parents say to us is, 'My child is becoming much too quiet,'" says James Zabora, director of the Life with Cancer education and support program based in Fairfax, Va. "Parents see a change, and they don't understand it. Those are the kinds of changes that indicate to us something could be going on."

Once distress is identified, medical professionals and parents have to find unique means of reducing and treating it, both during the child’s cancer treatment and after. One study found that children who were distracted by video games, bubbles and other methods during a painful procedure were less distressed. Studies have also suggested that animal-assisted therapy and music might be beneficial to children. "Children need unique ways to try to express themselves," Zabora says, such as playing, drawing, even acting out make-believe fantasies.

And it's important to not assume the distress goes away once cancer treatment ends. Although most children tend to adjust psychologically, some may experience distress for months or years, particularly if they have noticeable disfigurement and scarring from the treatment, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Former pediatric patients who were left with scars or disfigurements on their head, neck, arms or legs—visible places on the body—had about a 20 percent higher risk of depression than siblings who were not scarred.

Some aspects of cancer care might be particularly hard on adolescents and young adults because their treatment and its aftermath can affect their relationships with friends and classmates during a time of key social development. To that end, teens with greater family and social support report feeling less distress.

Social media has come to play a distinct role in helping adolescents and young adults overcome distress. For example, Planet Cancer, an online community founded by a young adult cancer survivor, has thousands of participants (planetcancer.org).

Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.

Related Articles

1
×

Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!
×

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In