Many adolescent and young adult cancer survivors have more social connections than peers
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IMAGE: Senior author Kevin Krull, Ph.D., pictured with investigator I-Chan Huang, Ph.D., both of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. view more 

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Credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital / Seth Dixon

Survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer often have stronger social networks than their non-cancer peers, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital researchers, who hope to translate that support into better lives for the nation’s growing population of cancer survivors. The findings appear online today in the journal Cancer.

“Cancer survivors need healthy social connections, and to the best of our knowledge this is the first published study to quantify social networks of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors compared to their peers,” said I-Chan Huang, Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, who led the study. “The study introduces a method we developed and validated for evaluating social networks of these cancer survivors.”

The method, called the functional social network index, proved a better predictor of survivors’ ability to cope with life’s challenges than two traditional methods for measuring social networks, researchers reported.

Instead of measuring just the structure of social networks (who knows whom), marital status or

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