Research Article

Impact of childhood cancer on return to normal schooling.

BMJ 1990; 301 doi: (Published 21 July 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;301:169
  1. I J Larcombe,
  2. J Walker,
  3. A Charlton,
  4. S Meller,
  5. P Morris Jones,
  6. M G Mott
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Social Oncology, Christie, Hospital, Manchester.


    Most of the research into the psychosocial impact of treatment for cancer in children has concentrated on effects on the family rather than on the children's return to school. Thus parents and teachers were questioned about the problems experienced by 117 children who returned to school after spending time in hospital. The children comprised 51 with cancer and two groups of control children (34 with chronic diseases such as renal disease and cardiac conditions and 32 with orthopaedic conditions such as thoracic scoliosis, club foot, and injuries resulting from trauma). Children in all three groups experienced problems on returning to school, the greatest number and variety occurring in the children treated for cancer and the fewest in the children with orthopaedic conditions. The variety of physical problems was greatest and the variety of academic problems was least, with psychological and behavioural problems intermediate. Several problems seemed to be related to drug treatment. Several children missed a considerable amount of full time education. Many teachers were unsure of the academic expectations and physical capabilities of children returning to school. To facilitate a smooth return to school for a child with cancer improved liaison is needed between the hospital, school, and home during the child's absence and teachers need to be better informed.