Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancers Quiz

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Faces of AYAs

Take this quiz to learn more about cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYAs).

How many AYAs are diagnosed with cancer each year?

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.

Have cancer survival rates for AYAs improved in recent years?

No. Survival rates have steadily improved for children and adults who have cancer, but improvements in survival have lagged behind for AYAs because of:

  • Low numbers of clinical trials for AYAs and poor participation
  • Delayed diagnosis of their primary cancers
  • Inadequate treatment practices and settings for AYA cancer patients
  • Poor understanding of the biology of AYA cancers
  • Limited access to care and insurance coverage for AYAs
  • Limited emphasis on prevention and early detection for AYAs
  • Unique AYA psychosocial and supportive care needs

Read Closing the Gap: Research and Care Imperatives for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer and Closing the Gap: A Strategic Plan to learn more. These reports were developed through a partnership between NCI and the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance.

You can learn more by reading Dr. Archie Bleyer’s article: “Latest Estimates of Survival Rates of the 24 Most Common Cancers in Adolescent and Young Adult Americans.”

When was the first research journal for AYA oncology published?

The Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology published its first issue in March 2011. The journal was created by the Society for Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.

You can find published cancer research articles in PubMed, a database maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

On what radio program did NCI staff participate?

The Stupid Cancer Show is a weekly radio program sponsored by the I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation. Dr. Nita Seibel and Steve Friedman from NCI’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis were guests on the “Clinical Trial Myths” episode. Dr. Robert Croyle, the director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, was a guest on the “Health Care Reform” episode.

Listen to these and other Stupid Cancer Show episodes for young adults with cancer.

Where can I learn more about clinical trials for AYAs who have cancer?

The article, “Clinical Trials Offer a Path to Better Care for AYAs with Cancer,” may be helpful. 

You can look for specific clinical trials using NCI’s clinical trials search form.

How is NCI making more clinical trials available for AYA cancer patients?

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 why this trial is important and how young adult participation in clinical trials can lead to improvements for this age group.

Check out this clinical trial's entry criteria and contact information, or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to learn more.

Are the tumors found in AYA cancer patients different from tumors in younger or older people?

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.

Uncovering the Biology of Cancers in Adolescents and Young Adults” also discusses some of the challenges in trying to understand the biology of these diseases.

Do AYAs have better results when their treatment follows a pediatric or an adult protocol?

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. 

NCI's PDQ® Cancer Information Summaries list the treatment options for cancers found in pediatric and adult patients. Learn more about treatment options for adolescent patients with ALL. You can also search NCI's List of Cancer Clinical Trials or call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to learn more.

Do AYAs and the health care providers who serve them need to consider fertility issues?

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. There are fertility clinical trials for children, adolescents, and young adults. You can also learn about organizations that address fertility-related issues in the organizations section of NCI’s portal for adolescents and young adults.

Read the article, “Preserving Fertility While Battling Cancer,” to learn about guidelines for a conversation between clinicians and cancer patients about fertility issues, and more.

Where can I get more information for adolescents and young adults with cancer?

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.

Where can I learn more about National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week®?

National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week® was first launched by the nonprofit group Vital Options International. Their website has links to young adult resources and information about how you can get involved in the young adult cancer movement.