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Parents of Kids With Cancer No More Likely to Break Up
Date:4/12/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Even though a child's illness can cause severe stress, a new study from Denmark finds that the marriages and partnerships of parents of kids with cancer aren't more likely to fall apart.

The study debunks "a persistent myth that childhood cancer will have a destructive impact on one's marriage and family. This is simply not true," said Anne Kazak, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Cancer in children is rare, although it's the leading disease-related cause of death in kids under 15. According to the National Cancer Institute, an average of one to two children out of 10,000 develop cancer each year.

In the new study, researchers studied the parents of 2,450 children (up to age 20) who received a diagnosis of cancer between 1980 and 1997. They compared them to the parents of 44,853 similar children who didn't have cancer, and followed them for up to 20 years.

The parents in both groups included both married and unmarried couples who lived together. (As of 1996, cohabiting but unmarried parents accounted for 60 percent of first-born children in Denmark.)

Even after adjusting the findings so they wouldn't be skewed by high or low numbers of people of certain income levels, the researchers found that having a child with cancer didn't affect the likelihood that a couple would separate.

The findings surprised study co-author Dr. Christoffer Johansen, who called the results "good news."

"You could imagine that you would find an increased risk for some cancers and in some marriages, but we didn't find that no matter how we analyzed the data," said Johansen, head of the Unit of Survivorship at the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen. "Having a child with cancer doesn't appear to be a risk factor for divorce."

Why are the couples so resilient? Johansen said it may have something
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