Young Women with Breast Cancer

Researchers: Dr. N. Hodgson, Dr. P. Rana
Co-Investigators: Dr. J. Sussman, Dr. G. Pond, Dr. L. Bordeleau, Dr. S. Mukherjee, M. Forbes, K. Madden
Project Status: Completed
Young Women with Breast Cancer Experiences and Needs

This study aimed to gather and analyze the physical, psycho-social and informational needs of young women with breast cancer (YWBC) at the Juravinski Regional Cancer Centre. Participants attended either a focus group or interview that was moderated by following a semi-structured interview format. Transcripts were reviewed independently and then compiled by themes and recurring responses by two reviewers using constant comparative method. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with a total of 16 women, 40 years of age or less, diagnosed with breast cancer within the last year. Several themes arose from the data which included the need for: age appropriate information; timely referral to fertility services and supportive care services. Most participants reported experiencing a timely work-up and diagnosis. All participants expressed distress. The most common triggers were telling their children of their diagnosis, waiting for biopsy results and fear of recurrence.
Conclusion: Most YWBC reported they were provided with adequate medical information for decision-making. However, gaps were found in supports for psycho-social, fertility, and sexuality needs. Further research is needed to understand how changes could be implemented to help better meet the needs of YWBC. The results of this research, in part led to oncologists being more aware of the fertility issue when first seeing new YWBC and before commencing chemotherapy. Furthermore, it supported the need for more resources to manage psycho-social issues.

Presentation: McMaster Department of Oncology Student Research Day. San Antonio Breast Cancer Meeting.