With the recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day this week, more and more children are surviving childhood cancer. And they're experiencing less long term side effects of treatment. But how are they and their families coping emotionally?
Many patients and families do receive supportive care throughout treatment, however this care is not standardized, according to Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH. She continues, saying "We must guide patients and families through a maze of difficult medical decisions so they emerge understanding and accepting the choices they’ve made. We must, at the most basic level, manage the pain and other symptoms that accompany the child’s illness and corral resources to alleviate families’ economic hardship. We must work with primary care pediatricians who have ongoing relationships with the family and community of the seriously ill child. In cases where the end of life approaches, we must help families and children through one of life’s most excruciating moments and support them in their bereavement."
Two trauma informed interventions hospitals can implement to help children and parents cope with a cancer diagnosis are Surviving Cancer Competently Intervention Program (SCCIP) and Surviving Cancer Competently Intervention Program for Newly Diagnosed (SCCIP-ND). Both intervention programs are an integrated cognitive behavioral and family systems interventions, designed to promote healthy family adjustment to pediatric cancer and treatment and to prevent cancer-related posttraumatic stress symptoms in family members. Both are based on research indicating the presence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress in childhood cancer survivors and their parents, and SCCIP reviewed and approved for inclusion in the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) list of Research-tested Intervention Programs and in the US Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration's National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices.
Learn more about SCCIP and SCCIP-ND and join our Facebook conversation about supportive care during pediatric cancer treatment.