Young Adult Cancer Survivors

In a Review of the Literature on Quality of Life Issues for Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer (YASCC) vs Survivors of Adult Cancer, Nightengale, Quinn, Shenkman, Curbow, Zebrack, Krull, and Huang (2011) report that YASCC Quality of Life (QOL) Indicators are different than the QOL of Adults who have had cancer.

What are QOL Indicators?

Behavioral Scientists are concerned with how Cancer Survivors perceive their world, personal life experiences, and health, following treatment from their disease. Researchers have been able to identify a series of characteristics that enable them to understand a persons’ perceptions of their “existence”. The current researchers reviewed studies of QOL for Survivors of Adult Cancer. They then examined the literature to see what YASCC’s reported about their QOL, and compared the reports of Adults vs Young Adults to see if there were any differences (based on Qualitative Reporting).

YASCC’s and Adult Onset cancer survivors both report having  problematic  issues or new experiences in the following areas of life:  Physical (illness vulnerability, fatigue, additional cancers, motor functioning issues); Social (changes in their social life and status); Psychological (feeling insecure, cognitive impairments); and Spiritual (increased feedlings of hope, love of life, living in the present).

The researchers also discovered that YASCC’s  QOL had additional issues not reported by the survivors of Adult cancers.

The YASCC’s reported a more extensive list of issues or problems related to their Quality of Life (QOL) as a result of having cancer when they were children. For example, YASCC’s report having issues or problems with their Body Appearance (due to surgeries, chemotherapy effects on the development of the body, weight loss or weight gain, having abnormal development related to their gender); Resilience (how they manage their feelings, confidence, happiness, maturity, identity, independence), and Fertility and Sexual Functioning (being infertile, not feeling secure with a relationship as a result of their infertility).

What does this mean?

First it means that professionals working with YASCC’s be cognizant of the uniqueness of the needs of Children, Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer once they become “survivors”.

Second, further research is needed to demonstrate the best ways to assist YASCC’s as they continue to mature and move on with their lives. It is likely they will have new or different health and personality concerns than their Adult counterparts.

Third, this research supports the need to find better ways to treat and cure Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers so that our Survivors will not have to encounter that ever present and lengthy list of Quality of Life Issues which can prevent  them from being productive and healthy citizens of the world!



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