More Hospitals Tailor Cancer Care to Teens and Young Adults
April 29, 2014
Source - The Wall Street Journal
New treatments and earlier detection have led to steady gains in cancer survival for children and adults. But survival rates for teens and young adults with some types of cancer have barely budged in 30 years. A push is on for better care and better outcomes for patients in what the National Cancer Institute calls a "no man's land" between pediatric and adult oncology. At present, adolescents and young adults may be treated in adult units or in children's wards—which both are places they are likely to feel isolated and distressed. More hospitals are adding dedicated teen and young adult cancer units based on a model developed by the Teenage Cancer Trust in the U.K. It teams medical oncologists, pediatric specialists, therapists and social workers to offer an integrative approach to medical treatment, emotional issues, fertility counseling and clinical trials. Last year, Seattle Children's opened a unit at its adolescent and young-adult oncology program, says Dr. Rebecca Johnson, the program's medical director. Teens and young adults generally can tolerate intensive chemotherapy because they are strong, with excellent liver and kidney function, she says. With one type of leukemia, adolescent and young adults have better outcomes with pediatric treatment protocols, which are more aggressive than adult treatment, studies indicate.