Childhood cancer and emotional impacts on the family: A review of the literature




Neoplasm; Diagnostic; Childish behavior; Caregivers; Manifest emotions.


Childhood cancer, defined as cancer in children and adolescents aged 0-19 years, has profound impacts on everyone's lives, being a great inducer of negative feelings in children, adolescents and those close to them. So, the aim of the present review is to analyze the emotional impacts of childhood cancer on the family, discussing the different feelings aroused in the family nucleus by the treatment process and eventual cure of childhood cancer. This study is structured by an integrative literature review, based on the elaboration of the following guiding question: “What are the emotional impacts of childhood cancer on the family?”; the definition of databases such as PUBMED, SCIELO and VHL that served as a research instrument; based on the descriptors: Neoplasm, Child, Family, Emotions and the eligibility criteria for the review. Regarding the results, families reported numerous impacts on the Family such as psychological disorders, difficulties in relationships between parents and the change in family dynamics due to the treatment of children with pediatric cancer. Therefore, among the negative emotions, fear, irritability, anxiety, uncertainty and sadness stood out; as for the positive ones, resilience, social support, faith, hope, openness, love and positivity.  The diagnosis and subsequent treatment of childhood cancer is a very delicate moment for the whole family and psychological support for the child and the family is essential to minimize the harmful effects caused by bad feelings and expand the reach of good feelings.


Alves, K. M. C., Comassetto, I., Almeida, T. G., Trezza, M. C. S. F., Silva, J. M. O. & Magalhães, A. P. N. (2016). The experience of parents of children with cancer in treatment failure conditions. Texto & Contexto - Enfermagem, 25(2), e2120014. Doi:

Buchbinder, D. K., Fortier, M. A., Osann, K., Wilford, J., Shen, V., Torno, L., Sender, L. S. et al. (2017). Quality of Life Among Parents of Adolescent and Young Adult Brain Tumor Survivors. Journal Of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 39(8), 579-584. Doi:

Castro, E. H. B. (2010). Revista Mal-estar e Subjetividade, X(3), 971-994. Fortaleza.

Cox, T. (2016). Caregivers reflecting on the early days of childhood cancer. European Journal Of Cancer Care, 27(1), e12499. Doi:

D’urso, A., Mastroyannopoulou, K. & Kirby, A. (2016). Experiences of posttraumatic growth in siblings of children with cancer. Clinical Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 22(2), 301-317. Doi:

Das, K., Khanna, T., Arora, A. & Agrawal, N. (2019). Parents’ acceptance and regret about end of life care for children who died due to malignancy. Supportive Care In Cancer, 28(1), 303-308. Doi:

Dib, R. V., Gomes, A. M. T., Ramos, R. S., França, L. C. M. & MARQUES, S. C. (2020). Cancer and its social representations for cancer patients. Research, Society and Development, 9(9), e187997134. Doi: 10.33448/rsd-v9i9.7134.

Doumit, M. A. A., Khoury, M. N. (2017). Facilitating and hindering factors for coping with the experience of having a child with cancer: a lebanese perspective. Journal Of Psychosocial Oncology, 35(3), 346-361. Doi:

Feliciano, S. V. M., Santos, M. O. & Pombo-de-Oliveira, M. S. (2018). Incidência e Mortalidade por Câncer entre Crianças e Adolescentes: uma revisão narrativa. Revista Brasileira de Cancerologia, 64(3), 389-396. doi:

Fortier, M. A., Wahi, A., Bruce, C., Maurer, E. L. & Stevenson, R. (2013). Pain management at home in children with cancer: a daily diary study. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 61(6), 1029-1033. Doi:

Granek, L., Rosenberg-Yunger, Z. R. S., Dix, D., Klaassen, R. J., Sung, L., Cairney, J., Klassen, A. F. (2012). Caregiving, single parents and cumulative stresses when caring for a child with cancer. Child: Care, Health and Development, 40(2), 184-194. Doi:

Heidegger, M. A. (2002). Ser e tempo (M. S. Cavalcante Trad., 1(9)). Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes.

Hildenbrand, A. K., Clawson, K. J., Alderfer, M. A. & Marsac, M. L. (2011). Coping With Pediatric Cancer. Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 28(6), 344-354. Doi:

Hooghe, A., Rosenblatt, P., Jongh, S., Bakker, E., Nijkamp, M. & Rober, P. (2018). “The child is our focus”: on couple issues in child oncology treatment. Psycho-Oncology, 27(10), 2482-2487. Doi:

Hooghe, A., Rosenblatt., P. C., Vercruysse, T., Cosyns, V., Lambrecht, K., & Rober, P. (2020). “It’s Hard to Talk When Your Child Has a Life Threatening Illness”: a qualitative study of couples whose child is diagnosed with cancer. Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 37(6), 398-407. Doi:

Instituto Nacional do Câncer (2016). Incidência, mortalidade e morbidade hospitalar por câncer em crianças, adolescentes e adultos jovens no Brasil: informações dos registros de câncer e do sistema de mortalidade. Rio de Janeiro.

Junior, D. C. (2016). The formation of citizens: the pediatrician's role. Jornal de Pediatria, 92(3), 23-29. Doi:

Kim, M. Y. (2017). Factors Influencing Posttraumatic Growth in Mothers of Children With Cancer. Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 34(4), 250-260. Doi:

Kostak, M., Semerci, R., Eren, T., Avci, G. & Savran, F. (2019). Life Experiences of Adolescents with Cancer in Turkey: a phenomenological study. Journal Of The Pakistan Medical Association, 69(10), 1464-1469. Doi: 10.5455/JPMA.300670

Lazar, M. B., Musek, J. (2020). Well‐being in parents of children with cancer: the impact of parental personality, coping, and the child's quality of life. Scandinavian Journal Of Psychology, 61(5), 652-662. Doi:

Long, K. A., Keeley, L., Reiter-purtill, J., Vannatta, K., Gerhardt, C. A. & Noll, R. B. (2013). Child-rearing in the context of childhood cancer: perspectives of parents and professionals. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 61(2), 326-332. Doi:

Molinaro, M. L., Fletcher, P. C. (2018). The Balancing Act: mothers experiences of providing care to their children with cancer. Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 35(6), 439-446. Doi:

Moreira-Dias, P. L., Silva, I. P. (2018). A Utilização do Brinquedo durante o Tratamento de Crianças com Câncer: percepções da equipe multidisciplinar. Revista Brasileira de Cancerologia, 64(3), 311-318. Doi:

Nolbris, M. J., Enskär, K. & Hellström, A. (2014). Grief Related to the Experience of Being the Sibling of a Child With Cancer. Cancer Nursing, 37(5), E1-E7. Doi:

Peterson, R. K., Chung, J. & Barrera, M. (2019). Emotional symptoms and family functioning in caregivers of children with newly diagnosed leukemia/lymphomas and solid tumors: short⠰term changes and related demographic factors. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 67(2). Doi:

Popp, J. M., Conway, M. & Pantaleao, A. (2015). Parents’ Experience With Their Child’s Cancer Diagnosis. Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 32(4), 253-260. Doi:

Quintana, A. M., Wottrich, S. H., Camargo, V. P., Cherer, E. Q. & Ries, P. K. (2011). Lutos e lutas: reestruturações familiares diante do câncer em uma criança/adolescente. Psicologia Argumento, 29(65), 143-154. Doi:

Rensen, N., Steur, L. M. H., Schepers, S. A., Merks, J. H. M., Moll, A. C., Kaspers, G. J. L., Van litsenburg, R. R. L. et al. (2019a). Determinants of health-related quality of life proxy rating disagreement between caregivers of children with cancer. Quality Of Life Research, 29(4), 901-912. Doi:

Rensen, N., Steur, L. M. H., Schepers, S. A., Merks, J. H. M., Moll, A. C., Kaspers, G. J. L., Van litsenburg, R. R. L. et al. (2019b). Gender‐specific differences in parental health‐related quality of life in childhood cancer. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 66(7), e27728. Doi:

Santos, M. R., Wiegand, D. L., Sá, N. N., Misko, M. D. & Szylit, R. (2019). From hospitalization to grief: meanings parents assign to their relationships with pediatric oncology professional. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 53, e03521. DOI:

Shi, L., Gao, Y., Zhao, J., Cai, R., Zhang, P., Hu, Y., Li, Z. et al. (2016). Prevalence and predictors of posttraumatic stress symptoms in parents of children with ongoing treatment for cancer in South China: a multi-centered cross-sectional study. Supportive Care In Cancer, 25(4), 1159-1167. Doi:

Sisk, B. A., Kang, T. I. & Mack, J. W. (2019). The evolution of regret: decision-making for parents of children with cancer. Supportive Care In Cancer, 28(3), 1215-1222. Doi:

Sousa, M. N. A. (2016). Revisão Integrativa da Literatura: esclarecendo o método. In: Sousa, M. N. A.; Santos, E. V. L. Medicina e pesquisa: um elo possível. (pp. 345-358). Curitiba: Editora CRV.

Van Schoors, M., Mol, J., Verhofstadt, L. L., Goubert, L. & Van parys, H. (2020). The family practice of support-giving after a pediatric cancer diagnosis: a multi-family member interview analysis. European Journal Of Oncology Nursing, 44, 101712. Doi:

Watanabe, A., Nunes, T. & Abreu, G. (2013). Japanese parents’ perception of disclosing the diagnosis of cancer to their children. Clinical Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 19(1), 125-138. Doi:



How to Cite

SOUZA, J. A. de .; CAMPOS, J. Y. de F. A. .; SANTOS NETO , F. T. dos .; ARAUJO, M. N. .; SOUSA, M. N. A. de . Childhood cancer and emotional impacts on the family: A review of the literature. Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 10, n. 10, p. e56101017931, 2021. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v10i10.17931. Disponível em: Acesso em: 24 oct. 2021.



Review Article