Objective: Long-term issues following diagnosis and treatment of a childhood brain tumour often become apparent as the survivor enters adolescence and young adulthood. Their caregivers may additionally face long-term impacts on their emotional and psychological functioning. This review synthesised evidence on the issues and supportive care needs of adolescent and young adult (AYA) survivors of a brain tumour diagnosed in childhood and their caregivers.
Methods: Electronic databases were searched up until September 2017. All studies reporting on issues or needs of childhood brain tumour survivors (aged 14-39) and their caregivers were included. Narrative synthesis methods were used to summarise, integrate, and interpret findings.
Results: Fifty-six articles (49 studies) met the inclusion criteria. Social issues (ie, isolation and impaired daily functioning) were most commonly reported by survivors, followed by cognitive (ie, impaired memory and attention) and physical issues (ie, endocrine dysfunctions and fatigue). Survivors experienced poorer social functioning and sexual functioning and were less likely to be employed or have children, when compared with other AYA cancer survivors. Caregivers experienced reduced support as the survivor moved into young adulthood. Caregivers reported uncertainty, increased responsibilities, and problems maintaining their own self-well-being and family relationships. Few studies reported on supportive care needs. Survivors expressed a need for better educational support and age-specific psychosocial services.
Conclusions: Surviving a childhood brain tumour can be particularly challenging for AYA survivors and their caregivers. Robust structured research is needed to identify specific support needs of both survivors and their caregivers and how these can be optimally addressed.