Exploring Cancer Worry in Adolescent and Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancers
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PURPOSE: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) survivors of cancers in childhood experience cancer worry, defined as concerns about cancer-related issues such as relapse and late effects of treatment. Cancer worry is an important determinant of successful transition to long-term follow-up care. The primary aim of this study was to identify patient-, cancer-, and treatment-related factors associated with cancer worry in AYA survivors. A secondary aim was to explore and understand inappropriate cancer worry (e.g., worry of developing a late effect when not at risk) in this population. METHODS: Two hundred and fifty AYA survivors, aged 15–26 years, completed a 6-item Cancer Worry Scale. Selection of factors potentially associated with cancer worry was guided by literature and expert opinion for inclusion in univariable and multivariable regression analyses. RESULTS: Female survivors reported significantly more cancer worry than males did (b=-9.4; 95% CI -14.4 to -4.5; p < 0.001). Survivors treated with the most intensive therapies reported more cancer worry compared with those who received the least intensive therapies (b=-18.5; 95% CI -31.2 to -5.9; p = 0.004). Thirty-one percent of participants had inappropriate worry regarding infertility and/or secondary malignancy. CONCLUSIONS: In AYA survivors, female sex and higher treatment intensity were associated with increased cancer worry. Inappropriate worry was prevalent among survivors and may contribute to unnecessary distress. These findings can help identify survivors who are more likely to worry and support the development of appropriate services to reduce the effect of cancer worry on survivor well-being.
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