Continued parental attendance at a clinic for adult survivors of childhood cancer.
PURPOSE: Adult survivors of childhood cancer have been an underserved and understudied population. Few clinics are available to take care of them, unlike the numerous ones that exist for children. The authors established a clinic that would take care of all survivors diagnosed before the age of 25 years, ensuring the participation of a significant number of adults. The authors observed that many adult patients came to their annual visits accompanied by one or both of their parents. The rate was almost three times as high compared with parents in either a primary care or subspecialty internal medicine clinic. METHODS: The authors investigated this phenomenon by asking parents of adult survivors to fill out a questionnaire that collected demographic information as well as reasons for parents accompanying their adult children to doctors' appointments. Open-ended comments were also solicited. RESULTS: Most parents who came with their adult survivor children did not accompany their other children to doctor visits and commented that they felt there was a unique bond created by the cancer experience that did not diminish with increasing age of their children. The rate of parental attendance was independent of diagnosis or demographic indicators. Many parents stated that they continued to be concerned about their child's diagnosis, overall health, and risk for cancer recurrence. DISCUSSION: Parents of adult survivors of childhood cancer may harbor deep feelings of protectiveness that continue well beyond the initial treatment and off-treatment periods when the threat of primary cancer recurrence is a realistic concern. This can be manifested in them by accompanying their adult children to doctors' appointments and deserves further study.
Ressler, IB; Cash, J; McNeill, D; Joy, S; Rosoff, PM
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