One of the most painful scenes to witness as healthcare professionals is the tearful and devastated reactions of parents who have just received their child’s cancer diagnosis. This scenario is only a snapshot of what families go through when battling childhood cancer.
Approximately 70 per cent of all childhood cancers in Singapore are managed at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).1 From March 2017 to December 2021, 321 children were diagnosed with childhood cancer at KKH.
Psychosocial needs of children with cancer and their parents
The negative impact of childhood cancer on the child and his or her family is widely known. However, little is known about the specific psychosocial needs of children with cancer and their parents or caregivers in Singapore, and how they cope with childhood cancer. This knowledge gap is the focus of the
CCF Psychosocial and Supportive Care Programme for Paediatric Oncology (CCF PSCP) at KKH, which provides comprehensive care to children with cancer and their families through its clinical, research and education arms. This first-of-its-kind programme is supported by the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF).
As at May 2022, the CCF PSCP has supported 428 children and their families, facilitating timely and evidence-based neuro-psychosocial, rehabilitative and nutritional care.
Under the CCF PSCP, children diagnosed with cancer and their parents undergo routine neuro-psychosocial screening at various time-points from diagnosis, to treatment and post-treatment (Table 1). These routine screening protocols are based on international gold-standard practices in providing psychosocial care to children with cancer and their families2,3.
Research4-8 conducted by the CCF PSCP has identified several psychosocial needs specific to children with cancer and their caregivers in Singapore. Some of the notable findings4-6 included:
The CCF PSCP team facilitates ongoing learning and knowledge exchange activities with other experts through local and international conferences, to keep abreast of the latest developments in paediatric psychosocial-oncology.
Resources to support children with cancer and their caregivers are also made available for caregivers and healthcare professionals below: