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Mothers caring for children with cancer need greater financial support

Study finds women parenting children with cancer have lower incomes than those with children who do not

Study finds women parenting children with cancer have lower incomes than those with children who do not


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Additional efforts are needed to address financial hardship for mothers of children with cancer once initial social benefits have diminished, according to this Swedish study.

To date there has been little research looking at how government support can help with the cost of parenting a child with cancer. In this study, more than 20,000 families were followed for up to eight years. They included families with a child with cancer and families where the children were free of the disease.

At about the time of diagnosis, when sickness, childcare and other social benefits were included, the income for mothers of children with cancer was on average 6% higher than the mothers of those without. There was no difference in fathers’ earnings. 

Income from work then dropped for both parents, recovering swiftly for fathers but not for mothers.

Long-term consequences

After about three years, when social benefits decreased, for parents of children with cancer, mothers’ income was lower than that of mothers of children without cancer, and the gap continued over time.

The researchers say social benefits appear to ease the financial burden during the years around a cancer diagnosis. But the finding of persistently lower income from employment for mothers of children with cancer suggests possible long-term consequences, with careers and future pension arrangements potentially affected.


Hiyoshi A, Montgomery S, Bottai M et al (2018) Trajectories of income and social benefits for mothers and fathers of children with cancer: a national cohort study in Sweden. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31123

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