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UICC World Cancer Congress 2006
Bridging the Gap: Transforming Knowledge into Action
July 8-12, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Methods: Mothers diagnosed with early stage breast cancer over the previous 36 months were approached during clinic visits and asked to participate in an assessment of distress levels and family characteristics. Almost half of the patients had children between the age of 6-17 (inclusive) and 125 families participated in the study.
Results: The rates of emotional and behavioural problems in the children were higher than reported in community samples. Factors associated with an increased problem level in the children included; maternal depression, low levels of family cohesion, and low emotional responsiveness. Whether a mother was on or off chemotherapy was not associated with child problems.
Where mothers have early stage breast cancer, a substantial minority of their school age children have emotional and behavioural problems which are linked to maternal depression and poor family communication. Present family services in oncology are poorly developed and psychological care programs need to be developed to take account of this largely unseen need.