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Nearly Three Million Kids Live with Cancer Survivor Parents

Mother wit childrenClose to three million children in the United States live with parents who have had cancer, half a million with parents in the early stages of treatment and recovery.

One in five adults recently diagnosed with cancer reported having a child under 18 living with them.

Most were women, married, and under the age of 50.

Using the United States National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 2000 and 2007 and population information, researchers estimated that 2.85 million children lived with parents who were cancer survivors. 562,000 of those children had parents whose cancer had been diagnosed within the past two years.

One third of the children (30.6 percent) were under the age of 6 when their parents first learned they had cancer, and another third (33.4 percent) were born after the diagnosis.

Overall, 1.58 million adult cancer survivors live with their minor children in the United States.

In the NHIS sample survivors were primarily:

  • female (78.9%)
  • married (69.8%)
  • younger than age 50 years (85.8%)

Writing in an early online view of Cancer, Kathryn E. Weaver, PhD, MPH and her colleagues concluded,

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.

SOURCE: Weaver et al, Cancer, Early View, online June 28, 2010.

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