Psychological Distress More Likely in Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors are more likely to have psychological distress, and, as a result, have additional annual medical expenses compared with those without psychological distress, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Cancer.

Distress in Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Ola A. Abdelhadi, M.B.B.Ch., M.P.H., Ph.D., from the University of California Davis, and colleagues identified AYA cancer survivors and a matched group of adults with no history of cancer to evaluate additional medical expenditures and health care utilization associated with psychological distress in cancer survivors.

The researchers found that compared with adults with no history of cancer, AYA cancer survivors were more likely to have psychological distress (11.5 percent of 1,757 versus 5.8 percent of 5,227). The prevalence of psychological distress was high many years after diagnosis; 20 years or longer after their cancer diagnosis, 11.2 percent reported distress. Compared with AYA cancer survivors with no history of psychological distress, AYA cancer survivors with psychological distress were more likely to smoke and have chronic conditions and were less likely to exercise regularly. AYA cancer survivors with versus those without psychological distress had additional annual medical expenses ($4,415), office visits (2.80), and use of prescription medications/medication renewals (11.58). Additional annual medical expenses associated with psychological distress were $2,600 higher for AYA cancer survivors than among adults without a history of cancer ($1,802).

“Screening to identify those with psychological distress and referring survivors to treatment or interventions can mitigate the impact of psychological distress,” Abdelhadi said in a statement.

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