Positive and negative psychosocial impact of being diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent or young adult

Cancer. 2012 Oct 15;118(20):5155-62. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27512. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Background: The objective of this study was to explore the psychosocial impact of cancer on newly diagnosed adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients.

Methods: This was a population-based, multicenter study of 523 newly diagnosed AYA survivors (ages 15-39 years) of germ cell cancer (n = 204), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 131), Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 142), acute lymphocytic leukemia (n = 21), or sarcoma (n = 25) from 7 National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries. Age at diagnosis was categorized into 3 groups (ages 15-20 years, 21-29 years, and 30-39 years).

Results: Respondents (43% response rate), on average (±standard deviation), were aged 29 = 6.7 years, and most patients (80.1%) were not receiving treatment at the time the completed the survey. With modest differences between the age groups, the most prevalent areas of life impacted in a negative way were financial, body image, control over life, work plans, relationship with spouse/significant other, and plans for having children. Endorsement of positive life impact items also was evident across the 3 age groups, particularly with regard to relationships, future plans/goals, and health competence.

Conclusions: The current results indicated that there will be future need for interventions targeting financial assistance, body image issues, relationships, and helping AYAs to attain their education objectives.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / economics
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Young Adult*