Post-traumatic stress disorder in cancer: A review

Meredith Y. Smith, William H. Redd, Caroline Peyser, Dan Vogl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


The stressor criterion for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been recently modified to include life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, as precipitating traumatic events. We sought to examine the empiric evidence for cancer's inclusion as a traumatic stressor. Nine published studies assessing PTSD in cancer survivors and/or family members were identified in the literature. The studies were predominantly small (n < 100) and cross- sectional. Study target groups included one or more of the following: children cancer survivors, parents of pediatric survivors and adult cancer survivors. There was considerable inter- and intra-study variability in the type and stage of cancer diagnosed and in the type of treatment regimens participants had undergone. Only three studies utilized a validated PTSD diagnostic tool to evaluate the disorder. Evidence of full-blown PTSD was found for adults and parents, and for children in all but one instance. These results suggest that a PTSD symptom assessment provides valuable clinical information concerning the post-treatment adjustment of cancer survivors and their immediate family members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-537
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999


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