Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Pediatric Supportive Care (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Families

When a child has cancer, all members of the family are affected.

Parents feel great distress when their child is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Over time, the level of distress may lessen. Each family is affected in its own way, and different members of the family will react in different ways.

Recommended Related to Cancer

Late Effects of the Endocrine System

Thyroid Gland Thyroid dysfunction, manifested by primary hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, or nodules, is a common delayed effect of radiation therapy fields that include the thyroid gland incidental to treating Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), brain tumors, head and neck sarcomas, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Hypothyroidism Of children treated with radiation therapy, most develop hypothyroidism within the first 2 to 5 years posttreatment, but new cases can occur later. Reports...

Read the Late Effects of the Endocrine System article > >

Certain factors may increase the family's level of distress:

  • The cancer patient is at a young age when diagnosed.
  • The cancer treatments last for a long period of time.
  • The child with cancer dies.

The entire family must adjust to changes in normal routine as the parents cope with the child's treatment, look for information, and try to also take care of the brothers and sisters. The parents' attention is focused on the child with cancer.

Brothers and sisters of the cancer patient need help to cope with their feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and fear. Brothers and sisters who are bone marrow (stem cell) donors for the cancer patient may have anxiety. Siblings who are not bone marrow donors may have school-related problems.

Although stress -related symptoms are common in siblings of childhood cancer patients, they sometimes report that their experience has made them more compassionate and that the cancer experience has brought their family closer together.

Social support can help decrease the family's distress.

Parents who are working and who have support from family, friends, and the health care team usually have lower levels of distress and feel more positive about their child's experience. Social support programs, such as support groups and summer camps, help brothers and sisters cope with the illness more easily.

1

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article