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Medscape: Loneliness Risk Elevated Among Young Cancer Survivors

By Lorraine L. Janeczko

Young adults who survive cancer are more likely than cancer-free siblings to be lonely and to develop emotional distress, risky behaviors, and new chronic conditions as a result, findings from a large retrospective study suggest.

Young cancer survivors were more than twice as likely to report loneliness at study baseline and follow-up. Loneliness at these times was associated with an almost 10-fold increased risk for anxiety and a nearly 18-fold increased risk for depression.

The article was published online earlier this month in the journal Cancer.

Most young cancer survivors in the United States reach adulthood and need to play catch-up: make up for missed school and work, become reacquainted with old friends, and develop new friendships, social networks, and intimate relationships. Meeting these needs may be hindered by adverse physical and psychosocial problems that linger or develop after treatment, which may leave cancer survivors feeling isolated.

"The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study provides the largest and the most comprehensive dataset on childhood cancer survivors and healthy-sibling comparisons, giving us powerful data on survivorship, late effects, and psychosocial and health outcomes," Rachel M. Moore, PhD, child psychologist at Children's Mercy Kansas City in Missouri, told Medscape Medical News by email.

Asking a simple question — "Are you feeling lonely?" — can identify at-risk survivors and enable healthcare teams to provide timely interventions that address young patients' physical and psychological needs, said Moore, who was not involved in the study.


Read the full article via Medscape

Children's Mercy Kansas City Cancer Center

Survive & Thrive Program