How to Talk With Your Children About Your Metastatic Cancer Prognosis

September 2, 2021
Brielle Gregory Collins, ASCO staff

There is a lot to consider when thinking about how to talk about your cancer diagnosis and prognosis with your children, particularly for parents with metastatic cancer. Parents may wonder how to describe their prognosis, or chance of recovery and worry about how upsetting this information will be to them. A recent study published in JCO Oncology Practice titled, “Talking With Children About Prognosis: The Decisions and Experiences of Mothers With Metastatic Cancer,” describes the challenges parents with metastatic cancer face and the strategies they use when talking with their children about their prognosis.

In this podcast, lead study author Eliza Park, MD, and co-author Paula Rauch, MD, discuss what parents with metastatic cancer should know before having the first conversation with their children about their prognosis and how to best navigate questions that come up over time.

  • What are some of the challenges and fears parents with metastatic cancer have in talking with their children about their disease? [2:13]

  • How is talking with children about cancer different for parents with non-metastatic disease? [2:45]

  • What do parents with metastatic cancer need to know before talking with their children about their disease? [4:09]

  • Why is it important for parents with cancer to know their prognosis? [5:27]

  • What strategies can parents use when talking with their children about their prognosis? [6:25]

  • What is the most common barrier parents with metastatic cancer face in talking about their prognosis with their children? [11:11]

  • What can parents do to prepare for talking about their prognosis with their children? [12:19]

  • What can parents with metastatic cancer do if their child doesn’t want to talk about their disease? [16:24]

  • What can parents with metastatic cancer do if they’re worried about upsetting their children when talking about their prognosis? [18:40]

  • What questions can parents with metastatic cancer ask their children? [23:03]

Dr. Park is the deputy director for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. View Dr. Park’s disclosures. Dr. Rauch is the director of the Marjorie E. Korff Parenting At a Challenging Time, or PACT, program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also a member of the Cancer.Net Psychosocial Oncology Advisory Panel. View Dr. Rauch’s disclosures.

Was this podcast useful? Please subscribe, rate, and review Cancer.Net Podcasts wherever you listen to podcasts. This prerecorded podcast can be listened to online or downloaded to your computer. A transcript is also available. For more information, visit the Cancer.Net podcast page.

Cancer.Net podcasts are edited for length and content.

Share your thoughts on this blog post on Cancer.Net's Facebook and Twitter.