Apr 07, 2021 10:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minutes

Photo of Karlie Allen

Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Karlie Allen and I am the Adolescent and Young Adult, or AYA, Patient Navigator and Program Coordinator at Huntsman Cancer Institute and I'm here today to answer your questions about AYA and cancer.

What is AYA?

AYA stands for Adolescent and Young Adult and it is a term we use for cancer patients between the ages of 15 and 39. In 2020 over 89,000 AYAs were diagnosed with cancer. This is a unique population and they don't always fit into the molds we have for either pediatric or adult care settings.   

AYAs are seen as being too young to have cancer, so they may not go to the doctor to get checked or the doctor may not be looking for cancer so they are misdiagnosed or receive a late diagnosis.

What is an AYA navigator?

As an adolescent and young adult navigator it is my role to help guide and support patients as they navigate this cancer experience — both during and after treatment. To connect them to appropriate resources and support services and empower them to be their own advocate.

How are AYA cancer patients unique?

First off AYAs are biologically different— not every AYA meets the mold of pediatric or adult care when it comes to their treatment and survivorship needs. There are many big milestones that AYAs go through and when a cancer diagnosis happens it interrupts these milestones and it can have lasting effects both physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

There are milestones such as graduating high school or higher education, starting a job, or starting or advancing your career, gaining independence, learning about themselves and their identity, dating, and perhaps even starting their own families.

How are AYAs being supported?

Our combined AYA program with Intermountain Healthcare and Primary Children's Hospital has social events monthly that provide an opportunity for AYAs to connect with each other, build community, and provide support, as well as learn valuable information as they navigate cancer. We want AYA patients to know there is a community of other patients like them out there to connect with — to help you feel less isolated, to know that you are not alone.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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