Nearly 70,000 people between ages 15 and 39 (collectively called AYAs) are diagnosed with cancer each year. Cancer kills more people in the AYA age group than any other disease. Learn more in A Snapshot of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers.
NCI sponsors the Children's Oncology Group (COG), a network of hospitals and research centers that offer clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer.
Recently, NCI made it easier for young adults to have access to these trials, too, by sponsoring a COG clinical trial for Ewing sarcoma patients through the Clinical Trials Support Unit (CTSU). CTSU is an NCI program that coordinates clinical trials for adults at hospitals and research centers. The trial (COG-AEWS1031) is currently open. Read a conversation with the principal investigator to learn why this trial is important and how young adult participation in clinical trials can lead to improvements for this age group.
In some cases, yes. NCI and the Lance Armstrong Foundation sponsored a workshop to address this very issue, looking specifically at acute lymphoblastic leukemia, breast cancer, and colon cancer. You can learn more about the study of biological differences in these cancers from this journal article or from these workshop presentations.
It depends on the cancer. For example, researchers recently found that young people with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) greatly improved their survival when they were treated with a pediatric treatment protocol, rather than an ALL treatment protocol for adults. This treatment approach is being tested further for young patients in CALBG trial 10403. The clinical trial is open and accepting new patients.
Yes! Even though AYAs may not be ready to start their own families, they need to plan ahead for the time when they may be. Some cancer treatments can damage the reproductive system and make it difficult or impossible for AYA cancer survivors to have children.
Researchers are studying ways to get around this problem with new treatments and procedures. NCI sponsors ongoing fertility clinical trials for children, adolescents, and young adults. You can also learn about organizations that address fertility-related issues in the organizations and resources section of NCI’s portal for adolescents and young adults.
NCI's online portal for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer has information on the cancers that affect AYAs the most, treatment options and clinical trials, survivorship issues, and other topics. The portal also gives links to many organizations that are working to meet the needs of young people who have cancer.
For health care providers, the American Society for Clinical Oncology has an educational program called Focus Under Forty that is designed to shed light on the unique biology and care issues for patients ages 15 to 39 who have cancer.