Young women find dad’s cancer hardest to deal with

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teenage girl_oncology news australiaYoung people experience the highest levels of psychological distress in relation to a parent’s cancer when they’re older, female, and it’s their dad who has been diagnosed, according to CanTeen research published in the journal Pyscho-Oncology.

The study looked at factors such as the young person’s age and gender, the parent’s gender, family relationships and a young person’s support needs to determine which combination of these factors had the greatest impact on levels of psychological distress.

“Every year, another 21,000 young people aged 12-24 hear the devastating news that their parent has cancer,” said A/Prof Pandora Patterson, General Manager of Research and Youth Cancer Services at CanTeen.

“We found that young people’s distress levels related to a parent’s cancer increased with age and, somewhat surprisingly, that having a father diagnosed with cancer was associated with a greater need for support compared to a mother.

father and teenage daughter_oncology news australia“A high level of psychological distress can lead to anxiety or depression, thoughts about suicide and self-harm and unhealthy coping behaviours such as drug or alcohol abuse,” she said.

Young people whose parents are diagnosed with cancer reported a number of areas where they had support needs that weren’t currently being met; a need for open family communication, to be able to express and get help with managing feelings, and to have support and understanding from friends.

Reporting more unmet support needs was associated with higher levels of psychological distress and statistical modelling can identify which combinations of factors are likely to be associated with different levels of distress for a young person.

teenager_oncology network australia_ oncology jobs-800x650“The results of this study provide greater insight into which young people are at greatest risk and are helping CanTeen in further tailoring the support we provide to each young person dealing with their parent’s cancer,” A/Prof Patterson added.

“The needs of young people dealing with a parent’s cancer are often overlooked – that’s why we’re calling on the community to identify young people who might need support and put them in touch with CanTeen,” she said.
[hr] Paper:  The CanTeen study involved 255 young people aged 12-24. The article can be accessed online at:

Source: Canteen

CanTeen helps young people aged 12-24 cope with their own cancer or cancer in their family. Through CanTeen, young people get support to cope with the impact cancer has on their life and connect with others their age who are going through the same thing. For more information or to get support, visit, email [email protected] or call 1800 835 932.


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