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

Keith M. Bellizzi, Ashley Smith, Steven Schmidt, Theresa H Keegan, Brad Zebrack, Charles F. Lynch, Dennis Deapen, Margarett Shnorhavorian, Bradley J. Tompkins, Michael Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5155-5162
Number of pages8
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent and young adult cancer
  • oncology
  • psychosocial impact
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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