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Keywords:

  • self-esteem;
  • sexuality;
  • cancer;
  • adolescents;
  • young adults

Abstract

A diagnosis of cancer compounds the complexities of adolescent development. Self-esteem and sexual health have a significant impact on adolescent identity formation, especially those young patients coping with a diagnosis of cancer. Knowledge of sexual health, interpersonal relationships, and body image concerns are factors that have an impact on the development of self-esteem during these transition periods into adulthood. A clinical perspective on these issues was utilized to highlight the nature of self-esteem and sexuality in adolescents and young adults with cancer. Case examples and clinical recommendations from a workshop on self-esteem and sexuality in adolescents and young adults with cancer are presented. Understanding the adolescent's and young adult's stage of identity formation, their social and developmental histories, and methods for increasing self-esteem can give insight to healthcare professionals in fostering positive self-esteem and sexual health in these young patients. Through the awareness of the specific factors affecting adolescents and young adults with cancer, oncology teams can assist in creating an atmosphere for the growth of positive self-esteem and sexual health in their adolescent patients. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.