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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Risk of somatic hospitalization in parents after cancer in a child, a nationwide cohort study

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OBJECTIVE: The diagnosis of cancer in a child is a profoundly stressful experience. The impact on parents' somatic health, including lifestyle-related diseases, however, is unresolved. This paper assesses parents' risk of hospitalization with somatic disease after a child's cancer diagnosis.

METHODS: We conducted a nationwide population- and register-based study with parents of all children under age 20 diagnosed with cancer in Denmark between 1998 and 2013 and parents of cancer-free children, matched (1:10) on child's age and family type. We estimated HR with 95% CI in Cox proportional hazard models for 13 major International Classification of Diseases-10 disease groups, selected stress- and lifestyle-related disease-groups, and investigated moderation by time since diagnosis, parental sex, and cancer type.

RESULTS: Among n = 7797 parents of children with cancer compared with n = 74,388 parents of cancer-free children (51% mothers, mean age 42), we found no overall pattern of increased risk for 13 broad disease groups. We found increases in digestive system diseases (HR 1.06, 95% CI 1.01-1.12), genitourinary system diseases (HR 1.08, 95% CI 1.02-1.14), and neoplasms (HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.13-1.27), the latter attributable mostly to increased rates of tobacco-related cancers and mothers' diet-related cancers.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first attempt to document the impact of childhood cancer on parents' somatic health. With the exception of increased risk for neoplasms, likely due to shared genetic or lifestyle factors, our findings offer the reassuring message, that the burden of caring for a child with cancer does not in general increase parents' risk for somatic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1196-1203
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Research areas

  • Adult, Child, Cohort Studies, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Mothers, Neoplasms/diagnosis, Parents, Young Adult, stress, oncology, children, cancer, morbidity, parents

ID: 78119605