Scientist to Study Resilience in Adolescent and Young Adults During & After Cancer Treatment
Research could lead to more comprehensive treatment for this age group

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When an adolescent is diagnosed with cancer, their future is daunting, not only because of the cancer itself, but also because of the unique aspects of psychological and social development that occur during the teenage years.

Evidence suggests that people who undergo cancer treatment as teenagers and young adults have more difficulties adjusting than their younger and older counterparts. For example, these survivors are less likely to attend college or be employed, and they often experience challenges with relationships and mental health. And yet, this group of patients also has great potential for resilience; teenage and young adult survivors are more likely to express appreciation for life than younger survivors of childhood cancer.

Abby Rosenberg, MD, MS, from Seattle Children's Hospital, plans to explore the concept of resilience in adolescent and young adult cancer patients so that, in the future, it can be promoted. She hopes to understand the patient perspective of what it is to be resilient, what adolescents worry about, and how to give those that struggle the right tools to combat the issues they face. Dr. Rosenberg hopes this research will enable these patients to become the adults they would have been, had they not experienced cancer. Ultimately, this research may translate to better quality of life in the years that follow treatment.

  • Abby Rosenberg, MD, MS
  • Acting Instructor/Senior Fellow, Hematology-Oncology
  • Seattle Children's Hospital

To conduct her research, Dr. Rosenberg will conduct both in-depth interviews and quantitative surveys of patients and parents at the time of diagnosis, three months into treatment, and at the end of therapy. She suspects that interventions and the "teaching of resilience" are most needed at these times of great transition. Dr. Rosenberg also suspects that the patient's perceptions of resilience and that of his/her parents will be quite different; interventions will need to address the whole-family to be successful

Dr. Rosenberg hopes her work will lead to the creation of interventions to help identify and treat those patients at the highest risk for poor psycho-social outcomes, thus enabling better patient and family resilience after treatment ends.

Dr. Rosenberg will begin her research in 2013 and is funded by CureSearch for Children's Cancer through the Young Investigators Program for two years, with year one funding by Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals. Throughout her research, CureSearch will share Dr. Rosenberg's updates and insights into the progress of her research.

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