Cancer is a frightening diagnosis to anybody at any age. Cancer survival rates are improving and researchers are starting to consider quality of life issues for patients, beyond survival.
Teenagers are already dealing with normal physical and psychological changes that make life confusing. A cancer diagnoses may make them feel out of control at just the age when they are learning how to stand on their own.
A book written by Dr. Carpentier and Larry Mullins, PhD., Oklahoma State University addresses the quality of life issues for teen’s diagnoses with cancer. The book is titled “Adolescents with Cancer: Influence of Close Relationships on Quality of Life, Distress and Health Behaviors.” The book is targeted to physicians who treat teenagers who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Teenagers are a unique demographic, as they are at an age when they are separating from their parents and starting to focus on romance and close peer relationships. They are also at a time of life when they are planning their future schooling and employment.
As the teens are learning to be independent, their life may threatened by a disease that causes them to have to give up their new independence and become reliant upon their parents, according to a statement by Melissa Carpentier, Ph.D.,Indiana University School of Medicine.
As a psychology researcher, Dr. Carpentier, studies the issues of quality of life and behaviors in adolescents who are being treated for cancer. Dr. Carpentier stated that teens have a unique perspective, but are often lumped in with children when researchers consider the effect of cancer on their psychological well being.
The teen years are time of hormonal, physical and psychological changes and the time of life when they are starting to date and focus on romantic relationships. Dr. Carpentier stated that very little study has been done on how romantic and peer relationships affect teens with cancer.
Teenagers may also be experimenting with different behaviors, such as drinking, smoking and sex. At a time of life when the body and mind is already going through so much change, the cancer diagnoses places even more burden on teenagers.
Dr. Carpentier advises a consultative approach for parents and doctors with faced with a teenager with cancer. The teen should be involved in decision making; such as what to wear in the hospital, time of day for treatments and in other decisions as possible.
Discussing treatments with teens and involving them in decision making helps them to feel more normal and more in control of what is happening to them.
Indiana University: Teens with cancer present unique psychological issues, Press release February 13 2009, EurekAlert.
Beach Vacations Increase Skin Cancer Risk for Children
Breast Cancer Survivors and Sexual Intimacy
How to Spend Time with a Sick Friend
Ten Tips for Keeping Up a Regular Routine with a Seriously Ill Child
Coping with Cancer Related Hair Loss: Buying a Wig