by Katie Dobinson, Psychologist
Research investigating the impact of cancer upon sexuality, both physically and psychologically, has for the most part focused on the needs of adults. For adolescents and young adults with cancer, however, understanding the impact of cancer upon their psychosexual well-being is incredibly important. A cancer diagnosis during the AYA years may come at a time when a young person is establishing their sense of identity, forming intimate relationships, and becoming autonomous.1 Cancer can make these milestones a little more difficult to reach.
Author Commentary by Dorit Barlevy, PhD Student, Institut für Bio-und Medizinethik, Universität Basel
Read the paper here.
This is the first article of two detailing a systematic literature review on adolescent oncofertility discussions. It explores these discussions from the perspectives of all stakeholders involved – namely adolescent patients, their parents, and healthcare providers. (The second article, which focuses on recommendations to improve these discussions, is currently under review.) It was important for me to conduct this systematic literature review as part of my PhD research project whereby I interview Swiss and Israeli adolescents in remission and their parents about the decisions they previously made regarding fertility preservation. A survey will also be distributed to Swiss and Israeli physicians on their beliefs and practices with respect to adolescent fertility preservation. Such research has not been conducted in either country yet and it will be interesting to see whether and how socio-cultural context influences such discussions and/or decisions.
by Dr Anne Grinyer, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University UK
Through four phases of research on the psychosocial impact of cancer in adolescents and young adults, I have looked at the effect on the family, the experience of treatment and the care setting, survivorship and finally palliative and end of life care. All my observations throughout the process suggest that this age group – from 16-24 – are particularly shocked by a cancer diagnosis, they do not fit well in either paediatric or adult care settings, and they struggle with the loss of their burgeoning independence. However, when treatment fails and there is a terminal diagnosis, all of these age-related issues are exacerbated for the young people, their families and their health care professionals. While most of my research is UK based, these are challenges that transcend national boundaries and are situated in the life stage of the young people.