PHILADELPHIA (November 14, 2000) -- Preliminary results of a new study show ten percent of mothers whose children undergo bone marrow transplants (BMT) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) six months after the procedure. The study will be presented November 17, 2000 at the International Conference of Behavioral Medicine in Brisbane, Australia by Fox Chase Cancer Center psychologist Sharon L. Manne, Ph.D.
The use of bone marrow transplants for children with cancer and autoimmune disorders has increased significantly over the last decade. BMT is now the standard therapy for most high-risk leukemias and is the preferred option after a leukemic relapse. Technical improvements have also led to the increased use of bone marrow transplants.
However, the significant risks of this procedure can be overwhelming for some mothers. The rate of graft rejection and possible death can be as high as 50 percent for some patients. Bone marrow transplants can also create opportunities for serious infections and recurrence of the malignancy is a possibility.
"Regardless of the advancements in this area of treatment, this is a traumatic event for any parent," says Manne. "The lengthy hospitalization, numerous treatment side effects and long-term medical risks, and ongoing fear of a cancer relapse or recurrence can lead to difficulties with emotional adjustment after the transplant."
Manne says classic symptoms of PTSD are found in some mothers.
"Mothers who have recurrent dreams about the child's transplant, re-experience traumatic memories associated with the transplant during the day, have frequent and persistent worries about the child, experience symptoms of emotional numbness, and have persistent difficulty sleeping or trouble concentrating may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder."
The study assesses mothers at five key points: before the transplant and at three, six, 12 and 18 months af
Contact: Karen C. Carter
Fox Chase Cancer Center