The Impact of Cancer on the Child, Parents, Siblings and Community

  • Myra Bluebond-LangnerEmail author
  • Richard W. Langner
Part of the Pediatric Oncology book series (PEDIATRICO)


The impact of cancer on families is ongoing and evolving. For some the impact extends into survivorship for others into bereavement. In this chapter, we focus on the impact of cancer from the time a child or young person falls ill up to the point at which he/she enters survivorship or the family enters bereavement.

Cancer presents children, parents and families with challenges to which they must respond to “problematic situations” which require a solution or an appropriate action in response (Wallander and Varni, J Child Psychol Psychiatr 39:29–46, 1998). Our focus is on the active, constructive responses which parents and children make to the intrusion of cancer. We examine what families find problematic how they define the issues and sources of their perceptions. We also identify drivers of behaviour and the strategies families use to make their way through the journey. We provide a framework through which the experiences of children, parents and siblings with cancer can be understood. We see such an understanding as key to building and maintaining the relationships with various members of the family, essential for the delivery of palliative care at any level and at any point in the illness.

Our approach to understanding the impact of cancer is, like palliative care itself, multidisciplinary. While attending to results from psychology, our approach also relies upon sociology and anthropology. We stress the importance of understanding behaviour as relational and as social interaction.

Our aim is to provide an understanding of the impact of cancer which will enable clinicians to both assess the needs of children and families and to provide the necessary support.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences, Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative CareUCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child HealthLondonUK
  2. 2.Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative CareUCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child HealthLondonUK

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