Young Cancer Survivors Can Face Social Difficulties Following Diagnosis

20 March 2017, 11:43 pm EDT By Amy Gordon Tech Times
A study has affirmed that young cancer survivors face an array of issues fitting into society following their diagnosis. This social isolation can lead to psychological distress, as well as higher physical symptoms from the disease.  ( Christian Ditaputratama | Flickr )

A new study reveals that several young cancer survivors experience various social issues during their diagnosis, which sometimes continues for years.

The research revealed that while in the first year of their diagnosis, cancer survivors may experience some progression in their social lives, following this their social activities decrease significantly over time. They feel isolated from peers who are not suffering from the disease.

Generally, people go through difficult periods of physical, emotional, psychological, and social circumstances during young adulthood and adolescence.

The trauma of cancer and the treatment process may increase these difficulties for a young patient. According to several researches, young people with cancer face greater difficulties in social activities when compared to people without the disease or older people with cancer.

The Study

Olga Husson, PhD, of the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and her team members visited five U.S. medical organizations. There they asked 141 cancer survivors aged between 14 and 39 yeras to participate in the study.

The researchers asked the patients to finish a survey during the time of their diagnosis, and again after 12 and 24 months of the diagnosis.

This study allowed the subjects to understand, as well as analyze, different changes adolescents and young adult cancer patients experience in their social activities in the first two years post the cancer diagnosis.

Results Of The Study

After studying closely for two years, the researchers found that social activities are worse for cancer patients, when compared to rest of the population.

During the first year of diagnosis the social functioning improves slightly. However, it remains extremely low after 24 months of the diagnosis, when compared with the healthy population.

The researchers also studied different aspects of social functioning over a period of time. They discovered that at least one in three cancer survivors participated in lesser social activities in every phase of the two-year study.

Many of these patients were not receiving treatment, which had a negative reflection on different aspects of their life. This included concerns pertaining to financial support, negative body image, work goals, and relationships, as well as any future family planning.

Additionally, it has been found that survivors had psychological hardships more than any physical symptoms, which prompted them to have extremely low social functioning.

These patients in turn reported a higher number of physical symptoms along with psychological distress.

"Reducing physical symptoms and psychological distress and enhancing social support by interventions in the period after treatment may potentially help these young survivors to better reintegrate into society," said Dr. Husson.

The study has been published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Photo: Christian Ditaputratama | Flickr

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