Understanding health-related quality of life in adult women with metastatic cancer who have dependent children

Cancer. 2018 Jun 15;124(12):2629-2636. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31330. Epub 2018 May 6.


Background: Cancer is a leading cause of death among women of parenting age in the United States. Women living with advanced or incurable cancer who have dependent children experience high rates of depression and anxiety as well as unique parenting challenges. To the authors' knowledge, few studies to date have examined the parenting factors associated with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in women with advanced cancer.

Methods: The authors conducted a cross-sectional, Web-based survey of the psychosocial concerns of 224 women with a tumor-node-metastasis staging system of the AJCC stage IV solid tumor malignancy who had at least 1 child aged <18 years. Participants completed validated measures of HRQOL (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General [FACT-G]); depression and anxiety symptom severity; functional status; parenting concerns; and investigator-designed questions to assess demographic, communication, and parenting characteristics. Multiple linear regression models were estimated to identify factors associated with FACT-G total and subscale scores.

Results: The mean FACT-G score was 66 (standard deviation, 16). The mean Emotional Well-Being subscale scores were particularly low (13; standard deviation, 5). In multivariable linear regression models, parenting variables explained nearly 40% of the HRQOL model variance. In the fully adjusted model, parenting concerns and the absence of parental prognostic communication with children both were found to be significantly associated with HRQOL scores. For each 1-point increase in parenting concern severity, FACT-G scores decreased by 4 points (P = .003).

Conclusions: Women with metastatic cancer who are parents of dependent children are at risk of high psychological distress and low HRQOL. Parenting factors may have a negative influence on HRQOL in this patient population. Cancer 2018;124:2629-36. © 2018 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: cancer; neoplasm; parenting; patient-reported outcomes; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Report / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology