Cancer Research Now: Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers

Uploaded by NCIcancerbulletin on 28.07.2011

Jessica: Everyone has these
defining moments in their lives,
and mine just happened to be,
how are you going to treat this?
Are you a victim?
Or are you a survivor?
So... Nita Seibel: When we talk
about adolescent
and young adult cancers,
we are referring specifically
to the group of patients
that are between ages 15
to age 39.
This group of patients has sort
of fallen through the cracks,
not only from the medical
standpoint of their treatment
for cancer but also
from giving them the necessary
support they need.
Stuart Siegel:
There has been very little
attention paid
by medical researchers
and clinicians to this group
as a distinct entity.
A lot of attention to children
with cancer, a lot of attention
to older people with cancer,
but very little attention
until recently
to the young adult group.
The kinds of cancers they have,
the treatments they respond to,
all these issues
that are important.
Becky Johnson:
And the challenge, again,
is the fact that the age group
of adolescents and young adults
with cancer spans a bit
of the pediatric age range
and a bit of the medical
oncology age range.
So to define the best care
providers for the disease the
patient has, and, you know,
the unique biology of that,
as well as their unique
psychosocial needs,
is an issue with these patients.
Debra Freidman:
Also people don't think
about cancer, when an adolescent
or young adult comes to a doctor
with symptoms.
They think about everything
other than cancer,
so diagnosis is often delayed.
Stuart Siegel: To have cancer,
at that time in your life, presents tremendous
challenges in an environment
that is already
very challenging.
So in order to take care
of these patients effectively,
you've got to address the
environment, as well,
not just the medical aspect.
Debra Freidman:
There's been a convergence
of interest
from the National Cancer
Institute, the Lance Armstrong
the cooperative groups,
as well as many
advocacy organizations.
And with all
of these groups coming together
there's been an incredible
awareness of the issues
of adolescents and young adults,
which is leading
to a new journal for this group
and specific research
initiatives within this group.
Brandon Hayes-Lattin:
Some of the most important
research questions are
which therapy works best
for the adolescent young adult
population, both in terms
of maximizing survival rate
and minimizing late effects.
Some of the other most important
research questions have to do
with distinguishing what is the
distinctive characteristics
of a young adult with cancer.
Stuart Siegel: What is involved
in developing a program,
a comprehensive program,
for treating young adults
with cancer?
I think that is essential.
No matter what else we develop
in research in other areas,
we've got to have the right
model of care.
And I think
that is being developed
in a number of institutions.
And we need to learn
from the experiences
of those institutions,
in order to go forward
with other programs.
We have to have models
that can be replicated,
not just in major cancer
centers, but in the community
as well.
Andy Miller:
We need a better understanding
of the biology of these cancers.
We also need a better
of the epidemiology
around these cancers,
as well as a lot
of the psychosocial needs
and research.
But the biology, I think,
is what's going to lead to,
I think, increased survival
rates for people affected
by cancer in this age group.
And the faster we can understand
those biologic differences,
the better we're able to respond
with more targeted treatments.
Stuart Siegel:
We need to develop clinical
research that takes the biology
that we develop, translates it
into new trials,
that will help us treat these
patients better, and also looks
at the environmental issues
in a research manner.
Andy Miller:
Being able to more effectively
target psychosocial
that meet the needs
of that population,
and ensure that if they are
diagnosed, they are not deprived
of all of the resources
that are available
to help them deal
with their disease.
That includes access
to insurance,
financial resources,
practical assistance.
We know that this population
tends to be underinsured
as opposed to the general
they tend to be just starting
their career, or in school,
and really at pivotal points
in their lives.
And so, no one should have a
cancer diagnosis affect the rest
of their lives negatively,