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Keywords:

  • cancer survivors;
  • parents;
  • children;
  • adolescents

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cancer diagnosis and treatment of a parent has considerable impact on the lives of their minor children, family caregivers, and patients themselves. Understanding the number and characteristics of the population of cancer survivors with children younger than 18 years of age would help to better target services for these survivors and their children and to stimulate and inform research on these understudied families.

METHODS:

This study identified adults with a history of cancer (n = 13,385) who participated in the United States National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 2000 and 2007. The authors examined the prevalence and characteristics of survivors residing with their minor children, both in the total sample and among survivors diagnosed within the last 2 years.

RESULTS:

Among these adult survivors, 18.3% (95%CI, 16.3-20.5) of those recently diagnosed and 14.0% (95%CI 13.3-14.8) of the total sample reported living with a minor child. Most of these survivors were female (78.9%), married (69.8%), and younger than age 50 years (85.8%). Of the 3193 identified children of survivors, 30.5% were younger than age 6 years at the time of their parent's cancer diagnosis; 33.4% were born after the diagnosis. By using population-based weights, the authors estimated that 1.58 million US cancer survivors reside with their minor children, representing 2.85 million children. Furthermore, an estimated 562,000 US minor children are living with a parent in the early phases of cancer treatment and recovery.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is a large population of families for whom cancer may pose special challenges and for whom assessment of needs and referral to resources are essential. Cancer 2010. Published 2010 by the American Cancer Society.