Apr 05, 2021 10:00 AM

The first week in April is Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Awareness Week. We want to recognize our patients age 15–39 who have been diagnosed with cancer. The National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and National Comprehensive Cancer Network all have great information about AYA cancer.

Here are 10 things to know about AYA cancer:

  1. For every 100 cancer diagnoses, 5 of them are adolescents or young adults (defined as people age 15–39).
  2. The most common types of AYA cancers are breast and thyroid in women and testicular in men.
  3. AYAs are less likely to enroll in clinical trials. Look into open clinical trials to see if you can take part.
  4. It can be hard for AYAs to decide who their main caregiver will be since relationships may change over these years. Caregivers can include a parent, spouse, partner, neighbor, friend, or a combination of these individuals.
  5. AYA cancer patients often face fertility decisions. Certain types of cancer and cancer treatments may affect fertility and sexual health for both men and women. Talk to your doctor early on about fertility.
  6. AYAs often experience a sense of isolation from friends and family who may not understand what they are going through. Some may feel like they are losing their independence at a time when they were just starting to gain it.
  7. Financial stress is very common among AYAs. Young people do not always have a job or health insurance to pay for cancer treatment. Even if they do, it can still be difficult to pay for treatment and daily living expenses.
  8. Cancer treatments can cause long-term side effects that may show up years after treatment ends. Ask for a survivorship care plan from your health care team to plan for your health moving forward. Also, make sure to schedule yearly visits with a primary care provider.
  9. For many AYAs, completing treatment is something to celebrate. But this time may also be hard as you get back to school or work. Cancer can add new layers to one’s personal life and relationships.
  10. AYA cancer survivors may feel distress, depression, and anxiety. Find support such as professional counseling or peer support groups.

Patient navigators with the Huntsman-Intermountain Adolescent and Young Adult (HIAYA) program can help AYA patients and their caregivers find resources. Call 801-585-9669, email aya@hci.utah.edu. You can also connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

You can also find resources in the Cancer Learning Center resource guide (choose the subtopic “For young adults”).

aya cancer health education

Cancer touches all of us.

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