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March 1981

Neoplasm and Traumatic Events in Childhood: Are They Related?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Ms Duszynski and Dr Thomas) and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dr Shaffer), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(3):327-331. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780280095011

• Previous research has suggested that certain objectively defined traumatic events occurring in childhood and/or adolescence may be linked to the appearance of neoplasm later in life. The present report examines four such events—parental death, parental divorce, sibling death, and having been the youngest child for less than two years—for their frequency of occurrence within four groups of physician subjects classified according to current health status as follows: major cancer, skin cancer, benign tumor, and healthy controls. All data had been collected while the subjects were in medical school within the context of a long-term, prospectively oriented study. Major cancer subjects were also compared with their cancer-free siblings with respect to length of time spent as youngest child. Although there was a slight tendency for the trend of the findings to be in accord with the hypotheses tested, no statistically significant differences among groups could be demonstrated.

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