The University of Chicago has developed a new Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program for those aged 15 to 30 years who have been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, and are faced with unique challenges.
Nearly 30,000 adolescent and young adults are diagnosed each year with some form of hematological malignancy. Cancer patients within this age group are often confronted with a different set of personal, psychosocial, and medical issues compared to that of younger children or older adults.
Led by a team of adult and pediatric experts, along with social work professionals and counselors, this centralized program offers a variety of support, ranging from fertility counseling to insurance assistance.
Currently, the 5-year survival rates for patients in the AYA age range is around 70 percent; a bit lower than the survival rate for young children, which is around 80 percent. Many patients in this age group are independent of their parents and do not have the support that younger children do. Therefore, additional support may be necessary to help bridge the gap for this age group in regards to treatment, as well as survivorship.
There are just a handful of AYA oncology programs located within the US that offer specialized services and protocols for this age group consisting of:
- Age specific clinical trials
- A collaborative program led by adult and pediatric hematologists/oncologists
- Emotional support tailored to young adults
- Help for patients regarding fertility counseling
- Support and monitoring for patients to aid them with treatment compliance
- Assisting patients with insurance
- Helping patients experience a life that is not limited by their diagnosis
Ongoing follow-up care may be necessary long after treatment is complete and throughout adulthood. Specialists from The University of Chicago AYA program continue to monitor the impact of the cancer in regards to the patient’s growth, organs, fertility, and emotional development.
Does your cancer center have an AYA program similar to The University of Chicago? If so, what improvements have you seen among these young patients with leukemia and lymphoma?