According to the American Cancer Society, nearly two million people were diagnosed with cancer in the US in 2021 — with thousands of them estimated to be parents of minor children. Children whose parents have cancer react to the diagnosis in various ways.
Multiple studies show that children dealing with a parent’s cancer diagnosis have a higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems, like depression and anxiety. Several factors — the disruption of daily routines, changing household roles, financial stress, and a parent’s physical and emotional availability — are contributing aspects.
Although each child might react differently, common issues might also include difficulties in school and other social settings and regressive behavior. For some children, reactions can indicate symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).