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Teens with cancer present unique psychological issues
Date:2/13/2009

INDIANAPOLIS A diagnosis of cancer is devastating at any age, but for teens it occurs at a time of critical physical, individual and interpersonal development and other often anxiety-provoking changes.

"Teens are at the threshold of life, increasingly separating from parents, developing close peer and romantic relationships, and thinking about the future -- about thing like college and jobs. But when confronted with a life threatening diagnosis, along with that diagnosis comes the often need to surrender a growing independence and rely upon their parents once again," said Melissa Carpentier, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and associate member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Dr. Carpentier is a psychology researcher who studies the quality of life and health behaviors of adolescents treated for cancer.

"Unfortunately, teens are often lumped together with children when we consider the psychological effects of cancer, but they differ in many aspects from children and really should be focused on as a distinct group. We need to take teens' unique perceptions into account and listen to what they are struggling with," Dr. Carpentier says.

The teenage years are a time of hormonal and physical changes, a shift from dependence on parents to greater reliance upon peers, as well as the development of dating and sexual relationships as teens transition to adulthood. According to Dr. Carpentier, little research has been done on how peer and romantic relationships in teens with cancer affect critical outcomes such as quality of life.

The teenage years can also be a time of experimentation with behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and sex. Many teens also struggle with issues related to body image am I too fat? Am I too thin? Is my acne noticeable? Teens with cancer are burdened with these pressures and concerns and much more. Dr. Carpentier says
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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