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Significant decrease in parents’ income following childhood cancer diagnosis

Childhood cancer adversely affects parents’ income and employment years after the child’s diagnosis, say researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. 
financial cancer

Childhood cancer adversely affects parents income and employment years after the childs diagnosis, say researchers from Swedens Karolinska Institutet.

To investigate the short and long-term effects of childhood cancer on parents income and employment status, the researchers studied 3,626 parents of 1,899 children diagnosed with cancer between 2004-2009 in Sweden. They were compared with a matched control group of 34,874 parents from the general Swedish population.

The researchers found that parents income from employment decreased significantly following a childs cancer diagnosis. Overall, there was a 21% reduction in the mothers earnings and a 10% reduction in the fathers earnings for the year of diagnosis compared to the control group.

Merging responsibilities

The relative reduction in

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Childhood cancer adversely affects parents’ income and employment years after the child’s diagnosis, say researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. 


In the parents of children with cancer, the study revealed a 21% reduction in
the mother’s earnings and a 10% reduction in the father’s earnings. Picture: iStock

To investigate the short and long-term effects of childhood cancer on parents’ income and employment status, the researchers studied 3,626 parents of 1,899 children diagnosed with cancer between 2004-2009 in Sweden. They were compared with a matched control group of 34,874 parents from the general Swedish population. 

The researchers found that parents’ income from employment decreased significantly following a child’s cancer diagnosis. Overall, there was a 21% reduction in the mother’s earnings and a 10% reduction in the father’s earnings for the year of diagnosis compared to the control group. 

Merging responsibilities

The relative reduction in the mothers’ income was evident up to 6 years after the diagnosis, and the fathers’ income was reduced for 2 years post-diagnosis. Mothers were also less likely to remain employed following a child’s cancer diagnosis compared to mothers in the control group, which was evident up to 5 years later. 

The study authors said the findings indicated that healthcare providers and policymakers should take steps to facilitate successful merging of work and parenting responsibilities for parents of children diagnosed with cancer. 

‘This could include providing extended support from social work teams at the hospitals to help parents navigate the practical and emotional challenges following a child’s cancer diagnosis,’ they said. 


Lindahl Nordberg A et al (2016) Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Childhood Cancer on Parents’ Income From Employment and Employment Status: A National Cohort Study in Sweden. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30436).

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