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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern Study: Health of Young Adult Cancer Survivors Compared to Peers

Young adult cancer survivors reported poorer physical and emotional health but better social health compared to their peers in a study by Northwestern Medicine scientists.

The study focused on the five year period following the end of cancer treatment for young adults aged 18 to 39 years old.

“Early adulthood is challenging enough. A cancer diagnosis can make it exponentially more difficult because normal developmental transitions – education, moving, new jobs, dating, having kids – are sometimes put on hold,” said first author and primary investigator Dr. John Salsman, research assistant professor in Medical Social Sciences.

Other concerns may outweigh those traditional transitions, concerns about the possible loss of fertility, prematurely confronting mortality, body image, managing symptoms from treatment and the disease, and fear of recurrence.

The scientists compared the cancer survivors to a healthy cohort, matching age, education, sex, and partner status.

“This allows us to put our findings in the appropriate context and begin to tease apart the differences in quality of life due to normal developmental challenges versus those due to the cancer experience,” said Dr. Salsman, a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, which is a recognized leader in the field of adolescent and young adult cancer care. “With this better understanding, supportive oncology providers can anticipate future challenges and allocate resources to provide care and minimize the negative impact of cancer.”

The findings were published in Cancer.

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