Catching up with Dr. Zebrack

We often reference Dr. Brad Zebrack’s 2006 study that says young adults identify isolation as the defining element of their cancer experience. Dr. Zebrack was also a young adult cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 26.

The ASCO Post has recently caught up with him to learn what young adults with cancer are dealing with these days and how medical professionals can help.

The ASCO Post says, “Although all cancer survivors share some common concerns, studies show that young adults suffer more cancer pain and distress than older patients and experience more sleeping difficulties, sadness, worry, irritability, and sexual issues.”

To summarize, here’s what Zebrack had to say on three key issues:

  1. Young adults with cancer don’t necessarily know if their experiences are typical, and may not ask about something they are concerned with. It’s important for psychosocial professionals to ask direct questions, and for patients to ask any questions they have.
  2. Young adults like to make their own decisions and don’t like to be told what to do. Make sure they are informed about what is available for them, but don’t push it unless it’s necessary.
  3. Bringing up issues like infertility might need to happen more than once. When a young person is dealing with cancer, they might only think about getting through the disease and aren’t listening clearly when they hear the implications of treatment. Consequently, if your doctor doesn’t bring it up, or you’re not satisfied with the answer, ask again.


Read the full article at the ASCO Post.