January 24, 2012

Surviving Cancer at a Young Age

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in women, and is the leading cause of death in women under 50 in the United States. While the survival rate for younger women with cancer has improved over the last two decades, treatment, despite its effectiveness, can seriously affect quality of life and other health outcomes.

A research by the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California in Los Angeles did a review of studies that focused on overall quality of life, psychosocial effects, menopause and fertility-related concerns, and behavioral outcomes related to weight gain and physical activity.

Patricia A. Ganz, M.D., director of cancer prevention and control research and colleagues found that the overall quality of life of women with breast cancer was compromised more in young survivors. These women showed more signs of depression compared to the general age-matched population of women without cancer or women over 50 with breast cancer. They also discovered that premature menopause, infertility and menopause-related symptoms were more common and contributing factors to the level of distress in women 50 or younger after treatment.

Researchers say creating a personalized treatment for each young women suffering with breast cancer is important. "By tailoring adjuvant therapy regimens and giving cytotoxic therapy only to those who may benefit, we can mitigate some of these side effects, but the long life expectancy for these younger women also provides a window of opportunity for cancer prevention and health promotion activities," one researcher was quoted saying.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, January, 2012