Socio-economic status plays important role in childhood cancer treatment outcome in indonesia

Saskia Mostert, Stefanus Gunawan, Emma Wolters, Peter van de Ven, Mei Sitaresmi, Josephine van Dongen, Anjo Veerman, Max Mantik, Gertjan Kaspers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The influence of parental socio-economic status on childhood cancer treatment outcome in low-income countries has not been sufficiently investigated. Our study examined this influence and explored parental experiences during cancer treatment of their children in an Indonesian academic hospital. Materials and Methods: Medical charts of 145 children diagnosed with cancer between 1999 and 2009 were reviewed retrospectively. From October 2011 until January 2012, 40 caretakers were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. Results: Of all patients, 48% abandoned treatment, 34% experienced death, 9% had progressive/relapsed disease, and 9% overall event-free survival. Prosperous patients had better treatment outcome than poor patients (P<0.0001). Odds-ratio for treatment abandonment was 3.3 (95%CI: 1.4-8.1, p=0.006) for poor versus prosperous patients. Parents often believed that their child's health was beyond doctor control and determined by luck, fate or God (55%). Causes of cancer were thought to be destiny (35%) or God's punishment (23%). Alternative treatment could (18%) or might (50%) cure cancer. Most parents (95%) would like more information about cancer and treatment. More contact with doctors was desired (98%). Income decreased during treatment (55%). Parents lost employment (48% fathers, 10% mothers), most of whom stated this loss was caused by their child's cancer (84% fathers, 100% mothers). Loss of income led to financial difficulties (63%) and debts (55%). Conclusions: Treatment abandonment was most important reason for treatment failure. Treatment outcome was determined by parental socio-economic status. Childhood cancer survival could improve if financial constraints and provision of information and guidance are better addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6491-6496
Number of pages6
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence
  • Childhood cancer
  • Indonesia
  • Low-income country
  • Socio-economic status


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