Purpose: Adolescents and young adults (AYA) (18-40) are a population of patients with cancer, who have distinctive developmental and psychosocial pressures. Using validated distress screening tools, we investigated psychosocial needs of AYA compared to older adults with cancer at diagnosis. Methods: AYA and older adult patients from British Columbia, Canada, between 2011 and 2016, who completed the Canadian Problem Checklist (CPC) and the PsychoSocial Screen for Cancer-Revised (PSSCAN-R) within 6 months of their cancer diagnosis were included in the study. Emotional, informational, physical, practical, social, and spiritual domain concerns are identified using the CPC. Psychosocial needs and distress are evaluated using the PSSCAN-R. Baseline demographics were obtained from the cancer registry. Based on gender, primary tumor site, and presence of metastasis, a 3:1 case match was performed with older adults (>40 years old). Statistical analyses included Chi square and Fisher's exact tests. Results: Two thousand and forty five AYA were case matched with 6050 older adults. Majority of patients were female (61.9%), and at diagnosis, 12.1% had metastatic disease. Top three tumor types were breast (20.4%), lymphoma (11.5%), and gastrointestinal (10.8%). The top five concerns for AYA (% AYA, % adults) were fear/worry (56.6, 42.9), understanding of illness (47.6, 41.4), sleep (35.2, 28.9), sadness (34.1, 20.0), and finances (33.8, 15.0). AYA reported higher symptoms of anxiety at baseline (% AYA, % older adults), both moderate (26.0, 19.9) and severe (26.6, 17.1) p < 0.01. Conclusion: Significant differences in psychosocial needs for AYA were seen at diagnosis across multiple domains, specifically, higher emotional, informational, physical, and financial distress. Development of supportive programming geared toward these domains early at diagnosis could benefit this distinct population.
Keywords: anxiety; cancer diagnosis; depression; distress; psychosocial needs.
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