Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with hematologic malignancies experience significant psychological morbidities during treatment and early survivorship, according to a study published online ahead of print in the journal Cancer.1

Because adolescents and young adults with cancer encounter unique psychosocial challenges, researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago sought to describe the prevalence of psychosocial morbidities among adolescents and young adults with blood cancers during curative-intent therapy and early survivorship.

For the pilot study, researchers enrolled 61 patients age 15 to 39 years with acute leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or Hodgkin lymphoma who were undergoing curative-intent therapy or were in remission within 2 years of therapy completion. Participants underwent a semistructured interview that assessed anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. Fifteen oncologists also completed survey evaluating their perception of each patient’s anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress.

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Results showed that 23% of patients had anxiety, 28% had depression, and 13% experienced posttraumatic stress. In addition, 46% of patients demonstrated symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

Researchers found that 39% of patients were impaired in 1 or more psychosocial domains, with impairments being similarly frequent between early survivors and patients on treatment.

The study also demonstrated that oncology clinician perceptions did not significantly correlate with patient survey results.

“More than one-third of the patients included in this study [met] the criteria for anxiety, depression, or traumatic stress,” the investigators conclude. “This psychological burden may not be accurately identified by their oncology providers.”


1. Muffly LS, Hlubocky FJ, Khan N, et al. Psychological morbidities in adolescent and young adult blood cancer patients during curative-intent therapy and early survivorship [published online ahead of print January 7, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29868.