Approximately 1.58 million US cancer survivors reside with their minor children, for a total of 2.85 million children, and an estimated 562,000 US minor children are living with a parent in the early phases of cancer treatment and recovery. That is the conclusion of a study published online ahead of print in Cancer.
The study, led by Kathryn Weaver, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, is the first to look at the number of cancer survivors residing with minor children. Dr. Weaver and her colleagues analyzed data from 13,385 adults with a history of cancer who participated in the US National Health Interview Survey between 2000 and 2007.
In the analysis, 18.3% of those recently diagnosed with cancer and 14% of the total sample reported living with a minor child. Most of these individuals were female (78.9%), married (69.8%), and younger than age 50 (85.8%). Of the 3,193 identified children of survivors, 30.5% were under age six at the time of their parent’s cancer diagnosis, and 33.4% were born after the diagnosis.
“Greater awareness of the number and characteristics of cancer survivors living with minor children may facilitate clinical screening and referral efforts, inform public health planning, and stimulate research on these understudied families,” Dr. Weaver said in a news release.
While interventions are currently in development to assist these families, further examination is needed to ensure efficient and effective delivery of these clinical delivery systems, she and her coauthors—Julia Rowland, PhD; Catherine M. Alfano, PhD; and Timothy S. McNeel—noted, concluding that 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.