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Parents' perceptions of obtaining a diagnosis of childhood cancer can include experiences of disputes and delays

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QUESTION: What are parents' experiences of obtaining a diagnosis of cancer in their children?


Semistructured interviews.


Leicester, UK.


Parents of 20 children (age range 4–18 y) diagnosed with leukaemia, malignant solid tumour, or brain tumour, and who received treatment within the previous 4 months at a paediatric oncology unit. 4 families were of South Asian origin and the remaining families were white.


Semistructured interviews with one or both parents were held in their homes over a 7 month period. Interviews were open ended, but the interviewer used a prompt guide. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using the constant comparison method assisted by NUD*IST software. Theoretical saturation was reached by the 14th interview. Medical records were also analysed.

Main findings

Parents were first alerted to their child's illness by a range of medical signs and symptoms, and by behavioural and affective cues. Parents …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr M Dixon-Woods, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 6TP, UK. Fax +44 (0)116 252 3272. Email: mdll{at}