Dec 04, 2017 10:05 AM

 Samantha Pannier

Each year over 1,000 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) in Utah are diagnosed with cancer. For many of these young adults (ages 15-39), the cancer diagnosis is their first real medical issue. Patients may suddenly have to learn the difference between a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. They may also have questions about fertility issues, or need help understanding the complexities of the healthcare system. To help guide patients through these tough issues Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah, in collaboration with Intermountain Healthcare, offers a patient navigator designed to meet the needs of AYA cancer patients.

In a study recently published by the Journal of Cancer Education, HCI researchers discovered how AYA patients prefer patient navigation while going through cancer treatment, from theirinitial diagnosis, through survivorship.  

HCI researchers Anne Kirchhoff, PhD and Samantha Pannier looked at how preferences for patient navigation services vary among AYAs by age, categorizing ages from 15-18 years-old, 19-25 years-old and 26-39 years-old. Their work shows that these age groups need different services, and lays the groundwork to develop best practices for AYA patient navigation.

The three most frequently mentioned needs by AYA patients were insurance questions, financial issues and where to find information and resources. Younger AYAs reported a need for assistance with school and wanted basic information about insurance, while older AYAs had more concerns about their family’s well-being and finances.

Overall, the study illustrated that AYA cancer patients and survivors of all age groups were interested in face-to-face conversations with a navigator and preferred using multiple communication platforms, including email, text and phone for follow up conversations. AYAs also want patient navigation support throughout their cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship, regardless of age.

To read the full study published in the Journal of Cancer Education, click here.

For information about patient navigation services offered at HCI click here.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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