Psychological and social effects of cancer


The development of cancer treatments has improved the survival rates of childhood cancer patients and a higher proportion of patients with childhood cancer now reach maturity than was the case earlier. However, delayed health problems related to treatments for cancer in childhood have come into focus. The Nordic collaborative study on Adult Life after Childhood cancer in Scandinavia, ALiCCS  mainly looked at somatic long-term effects.

The new project, SALiCCS (Socioeconomic Consequences in Adult Life after Childhood Cancer in Scandinavia), aims is to detect delayed psychosocial and socioeconomic effects experienced by former cancer patients. In this study, the collaborative partners are Finland, Denmark and Sweden. In this study, we seek to identify those patients who are at the greatest risk of facing psychosocial challenges in later life and who will be  at high risk of social exclusion. The study focus is  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 behaviours (criminal offences, suicides) and the need for various social benefits or other aid. In some of these, the data will be limited to that of Finland alone due to confidentiality rules.

The research data encompasses all patients under the age of 20 years diagnosed with cancer in Finland from 1970 to 2012 (approximately 8 500 persons). Five healthy population-based control subjects of similar age and sex have been extracted for each cancer patient from the Population Register. Additionally, patients’ siblings are  a second control group. The children of cancer patients, the children of control subjects and of siblings, as well as information on the residential history,  marital status and its changes and mortality data are  retrieved.  The data will be  linked to the health records and  KELA on medical reimbursements, pensions data and social benefits provision. All  data are analysed in the Remote Access Environment of Statistics Finland without identifiers.

Most important 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.

Lead researchers: Nea Malila, Laura Madanat-Harjuoja

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