Emotional distress and psychosocial needs in patients with breast cancer in British Columbia: younger versus older adults.Breast Cancer Res Treat 2019BC
This study evaluates the prevalence of emotional distress and psychosocial needs in young adult (YA, age 18-39) patients at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis compared to older patients.
Through a province-wide program, BC Cancer patients complete the PsychoSocial Scan for CANcer-Revised (PSSCAN-R) questionnaire, which screens for the presence of symptoms of anxiety and depression and assesses psychosocial needs using the Canadian Problem Checklist (CPC). The study population comprised all breast cancer patients who completed the questionnaire within 6 months of their cancer diagnosis between 2011 and 2016. Clinical information was retrospectively collected from electronic health records. Univariate and multivariate analyses using the X2, Fisher's exact test, and logistical regression were used to compare patient age groups.
The cohort included 10,734 breast cancer patients: median age 62, 4% YA, 99% female, and 96% presented with non-metastatic disease. After adjusting for clinical and demographic variables, YA patients were more likely to report depression (33.6% vs. 25.5%, OR 1.47, p = 0.001) and anxiety symptoms (58.6% vs. 35.7%, OR 2.49, p < 0.001) than older patients. Psychosocial needs regarding work/school (OR 3.79, p < 0.001), intimacy/sexuality (OR 2.82, p < 0.001), and finances (OR 2.78, p < 0.001) were more common among YA than older adults.
After a breast cancer diagnosis, YAs have higher levels of emotional distress compared to older patients. Differences in specific psychosocial needs likely reflect differences in life stage between these age groups. The data suggest that YAs warrant specific attention with respect to early psychosocial assessment and tailored intervention.