Our Cancer is Different
Young adult cancer between the ages of 15 and 39 is different, on every level. The diagnoses are different. The biology is different. The life challenges are different. And the long-term effects are different.
But, caught between the worlds of pediatric and adult oncology, young adults have no medical “home” where their differences are understood, acknowledged, addressed and even—dare we say it?—celebrated.
Young adults over 15 are no longer children—and yet they may have a cancer that traditionally presents in kids. Or they may be full-fledged adults, but their cancers, their issues, and often their biology differs from those of patients over 40. Their responses to treatment often differ from older or younger patients. Most shocking, in contrast to younger and older cancer patients, survival rates for young adults have not improved since the 1970s.
A young adult cancer patient is the odd one out in both the pediatric or adult setting. One hospital or practice might only see one or two young adult patients a year, and those two may never cross paths. But those two people are actually part of a sizeable population when you step back and take a national look — nearly 70,000 patients diagnosed every year in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 39. That’s a large enough group to deserve closer investigation into just how unique they are, from their fertility status to their developmental stage to their molecular makeup.
They may face any or all of the following:
- Low clinical suspicion
- Delayed diagnosis
- No peer support
- No age-appropriate support services or resources
- No fertility information
- Sexual health challenges
- No clinical trial options
- Long-term financial repercussions
- …and no clues as to how this experience could impact the rest of their lives.
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