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Cancer-Related Distress in Young Adults Compared to Middle-Aged and Senior Adults. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2015 Jun;4(2):56-63



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85006202048   15 Citations


PURPOSE: Little is known about cancer-related distress during young adulthood. Results from the few studies that have directly assessed this age group have indicated that young adults (YAs) may be at greater risk of developing psychosocial difficulties due to their unique challenges of coping with cancer. This study's objective was to investigate cancer-related distress in YAs compared to older adults.

METHODS: This retrospective cross-sectional study compared the distress level of YAs (18-39 years old) with that of middle-aged (40-64 years old) and senior adults (65-90 years old) using the Distress Thermometer (DT) and associated Problem List (PL). Factors that may be associated with distress by age group were examined, including demographics, cancer type, and PL items endorsed.

RESULTS: YAs had higher cancer-related distress than senior adults but similar distress levels to middle-aged adults. Findings from distress comparisons across demographics, cancer types, and PL items endorsed suggest that YAs and middle-aged adults had similar distress patterns when compared to senior adults, who had the lowest DT scores. Multivariable analyses indicated age-related risk factors for high distress, including gynecologic cancers for YAs; divorced, single, or unemployed statuses for middle-aged adults; and being of Hispanic ethnicity for senior adults. Female gender and practical, emotional, and physical problems were associated with distress for all age groups.

CONCLUSION: There is a differential impact of cancer by age. It is important to screen for cancer-related distress, paying attention to risk factors by age to determine age-appropriate supportive care needs.

Author List

Burgoyne MJ, Bingen K, Leuck J, Dasgupta M, Ryan P, Hoffmann RG


Kristin M. Bingen PhD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Julianne Leuck Nurse Practitioner in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adaptation, Psychological
Age Factors
Cross-Sectional Studies
Marital Status
Middle Aged
Retrospective Studies
Risk Factors
Sex Factors
Stress, Psychological
United States
Young Adult
jenkins-FCD Prod-424 3f076d72ec995d19f9479a3db85ec300c336e4f7