Study in Elsevier’s Journal of Pain and Symptom Management lends insight into management of young patients’ symptoms

Article spotlights observance of International Childhood Cancer Day.

Amsterdam, 15 February 2005 - Today is International Childhood Cancer Day, sponsored by the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO), a group that believes every child deserves the best possible medical and cancer care.

Pertinent to this observance is a study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, entitled “A different perspective to approaching cancer symptoms in children,” by the research team of Roberta Lynn Woodgate, RN, PhD; Lesley Faith Degner, RN, PhD; and Rochelle Yanofsky, MD, FRCPC, from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The study aimed to improve how health care professionals manage the symptoms of their pediatric cancer patients. (Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 800-817.)

Citing an overall lack of understanding about how children experience health changes caused by cancer, the trio set out to discuss and describe the full range of symptoms from the viewpoint of both pediatric patients and their families. They found that when health care professionals and family members simply treated symptoms as side effects, children provided minimal descriptions about how and what they were actually feeling.

However, when symptoms were approached as dynamic, multidimensional experiences, children freely expressed what their bodies were experiencing as different feeling states, and assigned their own meanings to symptoms, thus providing health care professionals with a greater insight into how their patients were doing.

“Studies such as these confirm that children with cancer may experience a high level of symptom distress,” said Dr. Russell Portenoy, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management and Chairman of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York. "The health care professionals who treat these children must give priority to symptom management and be able to assess a phenomenology that may be very complex in presentation and impact.”

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About The International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations
The International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO) is a worldwide network of organizations of parents of children with cancer, and was founded in May 1994 in Valencia, Spain. The mission of the ICCCPO is to help members share information and their experiences in order to improve access to the best possible care for children with cancer everywhere in the world.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com