BACKGROUND: Research evidence suggests a debilitating impact of the diagnosis of cancer on the quality of life of the afflicted individuals, their spouses and their families. However, relatively few studies have been carried out on the impact on the QOL of adolescents living with parents diagnosed with cancer. This paper presents a sub- analysis on the impact of parental cancer (colorectal, breast and lung) on adolescents.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study on adolescents aged 13-18 years old. Upon ethical clearance obtained from UMMC Medical Ethics Committee, patients with colorectal, breast or lung cancer and their adolescent children were recruited from the Clinical Oncology Unit of University of Malaya Medical Centre. Respondents who gave consent completed a demographic questionnaire and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, via the post, email, home visit or meetings at the clinics.
RESULTS: 95 adolescents from 50 families responded, giving a response rate of 88 percent. The adolescent's mean age was 16 years (ranging between 13-18 years). Adolescents with parental cancer had the lowest mean score in emotional functioning (p<0.05). Male adolescents had significantly higher quality of life overall and in physical functioning compared to female adolescents. Adolescents with a father with cancer had better school functioning compared to adolescents whose mothers had cancer. Families with household income of RM 5000 and above have significantly better quality of life compared to families with lower household income.
CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent sons and daughters of parents with a cancer diagnosis show lowered QOL, particularly with reference to emotional functioning and school performance. Addressing the needs of this young group has been slow and warrants special attention. Revisiting the risk and resilience factors of adolescents might also inform tailored programs to address the needs of this neglected adolescent population.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.