Physician–parent communication necessary to understand risk for late effects from pediatric cancer
CHICAGO — Better communication is needed between physicians and parents of children with cancer to understand the long-term effects associated with the disease and its treatments, according to survey results presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
With advancements in cancer treatment, a majority of children with cancer become long-term survivors. However, many also experience late cognitive and physical effects from the disease and its treatments.
“Parents desire detailed information about possible late effects of therapy for pediatric cancers,” Katie Greenzang, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, told HemOnc Today. “However, parents may not be receiving the information they need, as parent perceptions about their child’s risks of late effects often do not align with the perceptions of their child’s oncologist.”
The researchers surveyed 352 parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer and their oncologists, to assess their perceptions of risk for future limitations in physical abilities, intelligence and quality of life.
Physicians deemed 22% of the children at high risk for impairments in physical ability, 9% for impairments in intelligence and 6% for impairments in quality of life.
However, of the parents of children at high risk for impairments, only 38% recognized the risk for physical abilities in their children, 21% recognized the risk in intelligence impairments and 5% recognized the risk in quality of life.
The researchers found that accuracy was higher in parents of children at a lower risk for future limitations in intelligence (P = .001) and quality of life (P < .001) compared with parents of children at higher risks.
Regardless of risk for future impairment, 92% of parents reported they considered it important to receive information about the future impact of cancer treatment in their children, and 86% sought a high level of detailed information.
“Our study indicates a need for better communication between pediatric oncologists and parents about the risk of future health problems in survivors of childhood cancer,” Greenzang said.
The researchers suggested that strategies to improve communication about late effects may assist with parent understanding.
“In future studies, we plan to investigate whether information about potential late effects of treatment improves parent awareness of risk, and if it informs or modifies parent treatment decision-making,” Greenzang added. – by Kristie L. Kahl
Reference: Greenzang K, et al. Abstract 10522. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; June 3-7, 2016; Chicago.
Disclosures: Greenzang reports no relevant financial disclosures.