Purpose: Australian population data regarding the number and sociodemographic characteristics of children affected by a parent’s cancer are not currently available. Moreover, predictions that this population is increasing have not been tested. This study provides data on the number and sociodemographic characteristics of parents with cancer and their young children (aged 0–11 years) in the state of Western Australia, and investigates whether long-term trends in this population have increased over time.
Methods: Linked administrative data were used to describe parents with malignant cancer and their children aged 0–11 years at the time of diagnosis between 1982 and 2015 in Western Australia. Parents and children were described overall and by year of diagnosis and sociodemographic characteristics. A Poisson regression was used to investigate trends in the number of children affected, accounting for population growth. Incidence counts of parental cancer characteristics were included.
Results: Between 1982 and 2015, 15,938 parents were diagnosed with a malignant cancer, affecting 25,901 children. In 2015, 0.28% of children in Western Australia experienced a parent’s diagnosis. The number of children affected increased over time; however, this was accounted for by population growth. The majority of families lived in regional areas and were of high socioeconomic status. Older children and older parents most frequently experienced parental cancer. Skin and breast cancer were the most common diagnoses.
Conclusions: A substantial number of families are affected by parental cancer. Results can guide intervention development and delivery to children of different developmental stages, and inform decisions regarding resource allocation and health service accessibility.
- Parental cancer