Clinical experience with psychological aspects in pediatric patients amputated for malignancies

Carlo Alfredo Clerici, Andrea Ferrari, Roberto Luksch, Michela Casanova, Maura Massimino, Graziella Cefalo, Monica Terenziani, Filippo Spreafico, Daniela Polastri, Sergio Mapelli, Primo Daolio, Franca Fossati Bellani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: Amputation surgery in pediatric patients suffering from malignant tumors is less common than in the past, but has a great emotional impact on patients and their families as well as on the medical team. Studies addressing the psychological aspects of limb amputation in childhood cancer are still relatively limited, and the results have sometimes been contradictory. Methods: At the Pediatric Oncology Unit of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan psychological support was provided to candidates for amputation and their families, involving medical oncologists, a clinical psychologist, and social assistants. Twenty-two patients were analyzed and 16 underwent mutilating surgery. Results: Different emotional reactions were observed. Surgery proved to be easier to accept when the tumor caused pain and functional loss. Specialist medical psychological support was needed in case of defense mechanisms (eg, splitting and projection) and depressive reactions evolving into isolation or intolerance. Conclusions: The reported experience could be helpful in providing adequate support to children with tumors requiring mutilating surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-404
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • Amputation
  • Childhood cancer
  • Psychosocial adjustment
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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