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he study aimed to . Mam’s Got Breast Cancer, What About The Children?. McCormack, L. & Bradley, S.K. Conclusion Maternal Breast Cancer has a significant negative impact on a young person’s overall wellbeing. Support programmes have been found to have a positive impact.

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Mam’s Got Breast Cancer, What About The Children?

McCormack, L. & Bradley, S.K.

  • Conclusion

  • Maternal Breast Cancer has a significant negative impact on a young person’s overall wellbeing.

  • Support programmes have been found to have a positive impact.

  • Support programmes appear to be extremely limited in Ireland. There is general support available to young people in Ireland. However, these supports may not be able to sufficiently deal with this client group as they are not specifically for young people who have a parent with cancer.

  • No support services in Ireland targeting this client group. However, It is indicated that supports are available in other countries.


  • Further research is needed to investigate the viability of a gold standard, user friendly support service or programme specifically aimed at young people in Ireland who have a parent with cancer.

  • Aim

  • To critically review the literature on the impact of maternal breast cancer on offspring and support programmes offered to such children

  • Identify available services in Ireland

  • Methodology

  • Articles for review were identified from searching Ovid Medline, Ovid Nursing Database, PsycINFO, Your Journals at Ovid, Scopus, CINAHL and EMBASE.

  • Findings

  • Prevalence of Breast Cancer

  • Among the most common cancers internationally.

  • 2670 women in Ireland were diagnosed with breast cancer during 2007-2009.

  • 38% of these women aged between 15-54 during the years 1994-2009. (IARC 2008; NCRI 2012)

  • Impact on Offspring

  • Feelings of grief, devastation, numbness, sadness and disbelief (Davey, Askew & Goddette 2003)

  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression (Compas et al 1994)

  • 45% of females and 33% of males, aged 11-17 years, had high stress levels (Edwards et al 2008)

  • Feelings of fear when seeing their mother ill. Hair loss was the main issue with young people. (Forrest et al 2006)

  • Worries about new responsibilities, increased dependence, continuation of attending extracurricular activities and the possibility of themselves or other family members becoming ill (Vannatta et al 2008 ; Forrest et al 2009)

  • Internalising problems and difficulty communicating feelings (Edwards et al 2008)

  • Support Programs

  • Reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness

  • Provide information and the opportunity to ask questions

  • Provide emotional support and reduce anxiety

  • Promote development of coping and communication skills

  • Programs such as School-based groups, Family- based programs, short term psycho-education intervention, ”The Kids Connection”, “The Bear Essentials”, “Kids Can Cope”, “For Kids Only” and “Quest” have been successful. (Call 1990; Paice 1990; Greening 1992; Brown Acheson & Farber 1993; Bedway & Smith 1996; Heiney&Lesesne 1996; Darbyshire,Helseth&Bugge 2008; Hoke 1997)

  • In the US “Walk with Sally” and “Kids Konnected” offer support specifically to this client group.

  • Scoping Exercise Findings

  • The scoping strategy involved using the internet and “Google” to explore supports available in Ireland

  • CLIMB was the only support program identified in Ireland and is only available to those aged 5-12 years (tuamcancercare.ie 2012)

  • The Irish Cancer Society provides no information on their website specifically aimed at young people who have a parent with cancer (cancer.ie 2011).

  • General support services such as JIGSAW Galway and Roscommon, The Samaritans helpline, Childline and Teenline may be able to deal with issues relating to the diagnosis of parental cancer.