Breast cancer’s impact on quality of life for adolescents, young adults

Sneha Phadke, DO, clinical assistant professor in Hematology, Oncology, and Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and Ellen van der Plas, PhD, assistant professor of Psychiatry received a grant from the Breast Cancer Research Group within the UI Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center (HCCC). Phadke and van der Plas’s project aims to identify factors influencing the quality of life in adolescents and young adults (AYA) with breast cancer.

Phadke and Van der Plas will use data collected by the Iowa Cancer Registry (ICR) and the Breast Molecular Epidemiology Resource (BMER). The ICR has gathered information on Iowans with cancer since 1973 and contributes to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER). Each year ICR and the UI’s College of Public Health produce the Cancer in Iowa report, a detailed analysis of cancer’s spread throughout the state and its impact on Iowans’ lives. The BMER is part of a molecular epidemiology core maintained by the HCCC and contains data from more than 1,200 people with breast cancer diagnoses or a family history of breast cancer. In addition to cataloging blood and tissue samples, the BMER also regularly surveys registry members with questions related to quality of life.

“While breast cancer is not common in young women, when it occurs, it can be aggressive, and chemotherapy, radiation, and other systemic treatments are often recommended,” Phadke said. “Not enough is known about how quality of life is affected in these young patients.”

After gaining a better understanding of the impact of breast cancer and its treatment on this population, Phadke and van der Plas hope to identify and implement remediation and prevention strategies, so young breast cancer survivors can enjoy the same quality of life as their peers.

Related: Van der Plas’s work with child survivors of leukemia


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