Psychological and social effects of cancer


With the development of cancer treatments, the survival rates of cancer patients in childhood have risen and increasingly more child cancer patients reach maturity. With this development, delayed health problems releated to treatments have come into focus. This study mainly looks at somatic long-term effects.

The aim is to detect delayed psychosocial and socio-economic effects experienced by cancer patients. We seek to identify those patients who are at the greatest risk of facing psychosocial challenges and who are thus at a high risk of social exclusion. The study focuses on education and employment after cancer, the establishment of a family (finding a spouse, marrying and divorcing, childbearing, infertility), ability to carry out military service (army attendance and classification), mental illness (diagnoses), risk behaviour (criminal offenses, suicides) and need for various social benefits or other aid.

The research data encompasses all patients under the age of 20 years diagnosed with cancer from 1970 to 2012 (approximately 8 500). For each patient a control demographic of five healthy individuals of similar age and gender have been extracted from the Population Register. Additionally, patients’ siblings are being sought as a second control group. The children of cancer patients, the children of control individuals and siblings, as well as changes to data, marital status and changes to it, and deaths are also being sought from the Population Register. The data generated are linked to the health records and KELA data on medical reimbursements, as well as on pensions and social benefits. The data will be analysed in the Remote Access Environment of Statistics Finland without identifiers.

Top 3 publications: 

Childhood cancer survival in Finland (1953-2010): a nation-wide population-based study.

Late psychiatric morbidity in survivors of cancer at a young age: a nationwide registry-based study. 

Hospital contacts for endocrine disorders in Adult Life after Childhood Cancer in Scandinavia (ALiCCS): a population-based cohort study.

Research team: Matti Rantanen, Janne Pitkäniemi, Anniina Tolkkinen, Liisa Korhonen, Tiina Hakanen, Sirpa Heinävaara, Johanna Melin, Viivi Seppänen

Funding: Cancer Foundation of Finland grant, NordForsk grant

Collaborating institutions:  The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa Pediatric Outpatient Clinic and the Women’s Hospital, Karolinska Institute, and the Danish Cancer Society

Lead researchers: Nea Malila, Laura Madanat-Harjuoja