We know cancer among teenagers is rare, but it is still the leading cause of death from disease in this age group. Teens going through cancer sit between the child and adult worlds of oncology in our health system – too old to feel comfortable with small children and too young to be with older people, they often never see another person their age. This can make them isolated and alone – the “hidden population!”
It is time that they are given the opportunity to be recognised and heard! It is time they were given a more positive experience as they face this horrendous disease. We need to change the health system to accommodate and meet these young people’s needs so that they can be treated together in environments that are appropriate, by teams that are experienced in meeting their unique needs.
So we welcome the fact that the third week in January has been designated as “Teen Cancer Awareness Week” by Congress.
It is a time to promote awareness of the unique medical and social needs of teens with cancer. This is our week to increase awareness about the unique challenges facing teens with cancer.
So we need you to join us and support Teen Cancer Awareness week.
Teens deserve to have their own SPACE, their own dedicated trained TEAM of health professionals supporting them, TREATMENTS that have been designed specifically for them and RESEARCH that focuses on the cancers that affect them.
Teens deserve to be treated together in an age appropriate environment designed specifically for them. A place where they can connect with and engage with other young people of their own age.
Teens with cancer have unique medical and emotional challenges that are different from the very young and the old. They need trained staff teams that are expert in treating and supporting young people.
Young people’s bodies are different from children and older people and both the cancers and the therapies can affect them differently. They need treatments that have been designed specifically for them and that have undergone clinical trials in their age group.
Research into the rare cancers that affect teenagers is lacking and young people have very limited access to clinical trials that would be their best chance of survival. 40 percent of cancer patients aged 14 and younger are enrolled into clinical trials yet it is only 9 percent for those between 15 and 24! This has to change and we need to focus more effort into developing research and clinical trials for young people.