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Quality of life in children newly diagnosed with cancer and their mothers

By C. Eiser, J.R. Eiser and C.B. Stride


Background\ud \ud With current treatments, approximately 75% of children diagnosed with cancer can expect to achieve disease-free survival. However, treatments are complex and aggressive, potentially compromising QOL for children and their parents. Although previous work has shown increased anxiety and depression among parents after diagnosis, the recent development of standardised measures of QOL enables us to look more directly at the impact of diagnosis on mothers' and children's QOL. The aims of this study are to i) describe QOL for children and their mothers after diagnosis by comparing their scores with population norms, ii) explore the relationship between mothers' worries about the illness and their QOL, and iii) determine the relationship between mothers ratings of their own QOL and their child.\ud \ud Method\ud \ud A total of 87 families took part, constituting 60% of those eligible. The children included 58 males and 29 females aged between 2 years 6 months to 16 years 3 months (mean = 7 years, median = 5 years 8 months). Diagnoses were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL, n = 57), brain tumours (n = 11), bone tumours (n = 17) and 2 rare cancers. Mothers completed questionnaires about their own and the child's QOL.\ud \ud Results\ud \ud Mothers' reported their own and the child's QOL to be significantly lower than population norms. There were significant correlations between mothers' worries and their own and their ratings of the child's QOL and mothers' ratings of their own QOL correlated with their ratings of the child's QOL.\ud \ud Conclusion\ud \ud Both children and their mothers experience significantly compromised QOL in the months following diagnosis. Mothers who rated their own QOL to be poor also rate their child's QOL to be low. These results suggest caution is required where mothers rate their child's QOL. Efforts must continue to be made to improve QOL of children especially in the period immediately following diagnosis.\u

Year: 2005
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