Impact of maternal breast cancer on school-aged children in Saudi Arabia.

Published online

Journal Article

BACKGROUND: We examine whether mothers with breast cancer told their children about the diagnosis, explore mothers' perceptions of the impact of doing so on the mother-child relationship, and assess perceptions of how this affected the children. METHODS: A convenience sample of 28 women with breast cancer ages 35 to 60 was interviewed using a 39-item close-ended questionnaire at the Al-Amoudi Breast Cancer Center of Excellence, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Inclusion criteria were having a diagnosis of breast cancer and having school-aged children (ages 5 to 16 years). Questions were asked concerning each child (n = 99). RESULTS: The majority of women (75%) told their children about the diagnosis, and explained the treatment (61%). In most cases, telling the children had a positive effect on how the children treated their mothers (84%), on the maternal-child relationship (80%), and on the personality and behavior of the child (90%). The most common negative reaction by children was increased clinging behavior to the mother (15%). Despite the perceived positive impact on the mother-child relationship and on the child's overall behavior towards the mother, school performance suffered as a result (77%). CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that when a mother with breast cancer tells a child about the diagnosis and discusses it with them, this often results in an improvement in the maternal-child relationship. However, the knowing the mother's diagnosis may adversely affect the child's school performance, which will need to be anticipated and addressed with formal counseling if it persists.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Al-Zaben, F; Al-Amoudi, SM; El-deek, BS; Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • April 23, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 /

Start / End Page

  • 261 -

PubMed ID

  • 24758552

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24758552

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1756-0500

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/1756-0500-7-261


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England