Why do young people going through cancer need special treatment? What are their unique challenges? Hear what Pam Simon, Program Manager at Stanford Adolescent Young Adult Cancer Program, has to say….
“Some people think adolescents and young adults (AYA’s) diagnosed with cancer should be treated as adults and others think they should be treated as children. But in reality, AYA’s don’t fit with either and should be treated in their own group receiving age appropriate, targeted care.
Patients aged 15-39 years old, diagnosed with cancer have unique needs that should be addressed during treatment. During this stage in their life AYAs are developing their self-identity, becoming independent from their parents and dealing with their emerging sexuality. They are attending school, starting careers and they want to be around their peers. The diagnosis of cancer can throw a wrench into all of this. Treating the patient as a person first and moving these issues to the fore-front of the patients care are as important as the chemotherapy, radiation and surgery they will receive to treat their cancer.
Another issue specific to the AYA patient is that some cancers in this age group respond better to adult-like treatments but others to pediatric-like treatments. This is why health care professionals who understand the specialized care needed for AYAs should be diagnosing and treating them. 70,000 AYA patients will be diagnosed with cancer each year in the US and cancer is the leading cause of disease related death for this age group. We hope that by providing AYA specific, individualized care to these patients, it will improve their treatment, survival and most important, their future.”
Pam Simon, NP
Stanford Adolescent Young Adult Cancer Program (SAYAC)