Parenting concerns put mothers with advanced cancer at higher risk of psychological distress while decreasing their quality of life as well as day-to-day physical functioning, a study says.
The study, published in the journal Cancer, also suggested that mothers with metastatic cancer (those that spread to other sites in the body) had, on average, higher depression and anxiety scores than did the general population.
“Among women with metastatic cancer, their health-related quality of life is powerfully interlinked with their parenting concerns about the impact of their illness on their minor children,” said co-author Eliza Park, Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill in the US.
“It appears to equally contribute to someone’s assessment of their quality of life as some of the clinical variables we routinely ask about,” Park added.
For the study, the researchers conducted an online survey of 224 women who had stage IV solid tumour cancer — cancer that had metastasised or spread elsewhere in the body — and at least one child under the age of 18 years.
The researchers found that their emotional well-being scores were also lower than for all adults with cancer.
The researchers also determined a mother’s emotional well-being was significantly linked with whether she had communicated with her children about her illness and her concerns about how her illness will financially impact her children.
“Parenting-related factors contributed to the amount of variation you see in quality of life almost equally as something like your functional status,” Park said.
The findings point to a need for greater support for mothers with metastatic cancer, the researchers noted.