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Age Could Affect How Well Cancer Patients Cope

FRIDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Even though they have a better chance of survival, younger adult cancer patients have more difficulty coping with the pain and emotional and financial issues of cancer than older patients, researchers say.

Compared with cancer patients in their 50s and 60s, adult patients aged 40 and younger reported more flare-ups of pain, and more trouble thinking quickly and logically six months after their diagnosis, said the University of Michigan Health System researchers.

The study included 100 patients with advanced breast, lung, colorectal or prostate cancer, or the bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma, who were surveyed six months after diagnosis.

The younger patients experienced pain in more locations throughout their bodies than older patients (4.5 locations vs. 2.2 locations), with older adults mostly experiencing spinal pain and younger patients having pain in the spine, back, arms, abdomen and elsewhere, according to the report.

The researchers found that 75 percent of younger patients had trouble paying health-care bills, twice the rate among older patients. In general, younger patients reported smaller incomes.

The study, published in the November issue of Pain Medicine, also noted that 8 percent of patients aged 40 and younger said pain affected their mood, compared with 4.35 percent of patients aged 41 to 59 and 4.14 percent of patients 60 and older.

"Our study provides evidence for the significant toll of cancer pain on overall health and well-being of young and old adults alike, but demonstrate an increased toll for younger adults, especially financially," study author Dr. Carmen R. Green, a professor of anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and health management and policy, said in a university news release.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about coping with cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Nov. 9, 2010

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