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The long shadow of childhood cancer

In Switzerland, around 350 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer every year. What is it like to be a childhood cancer survivor? What impact does cancer have later in life, on their social relationships or their professional careers?

Katharina Roser

As therapies continue to improve, many children and adolescents who develop cancer are successfully treated; almost 85 percent manage to return to the life they knew before the disease.


Healthy, however… 

What we know today: Survivors after childhood and adolescent cancer have a higher risk of second tumors and often struggle with growth disorders and organ damage as late effects of treatment. Further, pain, muscular weakness, or rapid fatigability can affect physical and psychological well-being. Possible consequences are social withdrawal, job loss, financial losses or early retirement.

However, data on these diverse challenges is scarce in Switzerland - broad-based, meaningful studies are largely lacking. Katharina Roser from the Department of Health Sciences and Medicine at the University of Lucerne wants to close these gaps: "Currently, there are few studies on the insurance, legal and financial difficulties that affected individuals and their parents struggle with. We want to change this."


Collect data - develop recommendations

Together with her team, she has set three sub-goals in her latest project, which is funded by Swiss Cancer Research: The first step is to summarize what is known internationally about insurance, legal and financial problems faced by young cancer survivors and their parents. In a further step, the researchers aim to describe the experiences from those affected in order to find out which offers and strategies have helped them the most.
In a third stage, the project will culminate in concrete recommendations that will support medical professionals and other disciplines in the health care and social security systems in their work.
"But we also want to raise awareness in general of the problems that parents and survivors can face and pave the terrain for measures that encourage and support the families concerned," Katharina Roser continues. The project is scheduled to run for three years.

Project ID:  KFS-5384-08-2021