Adolescence involves graduating from school and preparing one's professional career. The accomplishment of these tasks may be hampered by the experience of cancer. This study investigates the educational and professional achievements of German long-term survivors of adolescent cancer.
Adult survivors of cancer during adolescence (n = 820, age at onset between 15 and 18 years; M = 15.8, SD = 0.9 years; age at follow-up: M = 30.4, SD = 6.0 years) were recruited through the German Childhood Cancer Registry. They completed self-reports with standard items on their educational and vocational level and their current occupational situation. Outcomes were compared to an age-matched sample from the general population (German Socio-Economic Panel, n = 820, age: M = 30.4, SD = 6.7). Risk factors for educational and vocational underachievement were identified by subgroup analyses.
Compared to peers from the general population, survivors of cancer during adolescence achieved higher educational and vocational levels. A higher proportion of survivors was employed; however, survivors were significantly older when starting their first occupation. Subgroup analyses revealed that neuropsychological late effects were associated with reduced rates of graduation from university and of employment among the survivors. No such effect of neuro-cognitive late effects occurred for high school graduation.
Most German survivors of cancer during adolescence participate in school and vocational life without major difficulties. Problems particularly arise for survivors with neuropsychological sequelae. Further research should investigate whether these results can be attributed to the German support system for pediatric cancer patients or to sample effects. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011;56:432–438. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.