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After Treatment TOPICS

Social, emotional, and other issues in people with osteosarcoma

Most cases of osteosarcoma develop during the teenage or young adult years, a very sensitive time in a person’s life. An osteosarcoma diagnosis can have a profound effect on a person’s outward appearance and how they view themselves and their body. It can also affect how they do some everyday tasks. This can have an impact on their ability to continue certain school, work, or recreational activities. The effect will probably be greatest during the first year of treatment. The treating center should evaluate the family situation as soon as possible, so that any areas of concern can be addressed.

Some common family concerns include financial stresses, transportation to the cancer center, the possible loss of a job, and the need for home schooling. Cancer care teams usually recommend that school-age children attend school as much as possible. This helps patients maintain important social connections and gives them a chance to tell their friends what is going on.

Friends can be a great source of support, but patients and parents should know that some people have misunderstandings and fears about cancer. Some cancer centers have a school re-entry program that can help in situations like this. In this program, health educators visit the school and tell students about the diagnosis, treatment, and changes the person may go through. They will also answer any questions from teachers and classmates.

Centers that treat many patients with osteosarcoma might have programs to introduce new patients to others who have already completed their therapy. This can give patients an idea of what to expect after treatment, which is very important. Seeing another person with osteosarcoma doing well is often helpful. There are also support groups that encourage athletics and full use of the limbs. Many amputees or people with prostheses are able to take part in athletics and often do.

Although the psychological impact of this disease on children and teens is most obvious, adults with this disease face many of the same challenges. Adult patients should also take advantage of the cancer center’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling services.

Last Medical Review: 01/08/2013
Last Revised: 02/06/2014