This study assessed quality of life, self-esteem and worries in young adult survivors of childhood cancer compared to a group of young adults with no history of cancer. The impact of demographic, medical and treatment factors and self-esteem on survivors' quality of life and worries was studied.
Participants were 400 long-term survivors (LTS) of childhood cancer (age range 16–49 years, 45% female) who had completed treatment an average of 16 years previously and 560 persons (age range 16–53 years, 55% female) with no history of cancer. All participants completed the MOS-24 (Medical Outcome Study Scale), a Worry questionnaire consisting of three scales (cancer-specific concerns, general health concerns, present and future concerns), and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
Small to moderate differences were found in mean MOS-24 scores between the LTS group and controls (range effect sizes −0.36–0.22). No significant difference was found in the mean self-esteem scores between LTS and controls. Female LTS had more cancer-specific concerns than male LTS. In several related areas of general health, self-image and dying, the LTS group reported less worries than controls, but LTS worried significantly more about their fertility, getting/changing a job and obtaining insurance's. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that female gender, unemployment, severe late effects/health problems and a low self-esteem were predictors of worse quality of life in survivors. In addition, age at follow-up, unemployment, years since completion of therapy and a low self-esteem were associated with a higher degree of survivors' worries.
Quality of life and the level of self-esteem in LTS of childhood cancer is not different from their peers. Although many LTS worried not more or even less about health issues than their peers, they often are concerned about some present and future concerns. The investigated factors could explain poor quality of life and worries only to a limited extent. Further research exploring determinants and indices of quality of life and worries in LTS is warranted. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.