Young adulthood is unique period of life in which critical developmental milestones are achieved amid dynamic physical, emotional, and social changes. During this period of life, young adults are charged with establishing personal and social independence. When challenged with a cancer diagnosis, the already turbulent late teens, twenties, and thirties are dramatically and permanently altered. Hence, the needs of young adults vary from that of their pediatric and older adult counterparts. The aim of this systematic review of the literature was to identify what age-specific needs must be addressed by healthcare professionals to enhance quality of care and outcomes for this unique population of oncology patients. The following databases were searched from January 2010 to November 2019: Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, Medline, and Mav Scholar Advanced Search. Sixteen studies were identified and analyzed. Findings suggest that although various physical and psychosocial demands exist, needs related to fertility preservation, sexuality, peer relationships, education, employment, and financial support are foremost. As healthcare professionals who often partner with oncologists or oversee primary care for young adults, advanced practice registered nurses are in a unique and critical position to deliver these age-appropriate interventions. Information provided to this age-cohort must be individualized and include knowledge regarding adherence, long-term side effects, clinical trials, and complementary therapies. Utilization of technology and social media is vital throughout the continuum of care from diagnosis to survivorship or end of life. Healthcare professionals must recognize the vulnerability associated with young adulthood, know each patient’s developmental and maturity level, and then appropriately implore educational and behavioral interventions.


Rhonda Cornell

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing


Allied Health and Nursing



Rights Statement

In Copyright