Psychosocial impact of the War in Ukraine on pediatric cancer patients and their families receiving oncological care outside their country at the onset of hostilities

Elsevier, Advances in Radiation Oncology, 2022, 100957,
Gamze Ugurluer, Enis Ozyar, Funda Corapcioglu, Robert C. Miller

Psychosocial care of pediatric cancer patients and their families is as critical as the medical and surgical components of their therapies. Strains on family communication and structure and financial need are linked to poorer psychological outcomes for both patients and families. It is critical that children remain as connected as possible to their communities and extended families during therapy. For Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients receiving care outside of their nation's borders on February 24, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine compounded these problems. Based on conversations with patients and parents, we evaluated the psychosocial impact of war on pediatric Ukrainian cancer patients and their families who had left their country prior to the onset of the conflict to undergo treatment of pediatric malignancies at our medical center. These families shared with us the problems they have experienced following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Their concerns can be summarized in four categories: 1. Emotional stress experienced by the patients, families and relatives related to the dangers of war, 2. Difficulties in obtaining previous hospital records in Ukraine, 3. Medical expenses, and 4. Uncertainty regarding the patient's and their family's future and the ability of the children to ever return to their homes. Psychosocial distress relating to the violence of war will hopefully pass in near future, but our pediatric patients and their families will continue to face stressors related to displacement and financial concerns for some time to come.