Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program
What is the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program?
Seattle Children’s AYA program gives expert medical care and support to teens and young adults up to age 21 for all conditions and up to age 30 for select diagnoses.
Why does Seattle Children’s have a separate AYA Cancer Program?
Teens and young adults with cancer have different needs and treatment challenges from children or older adults.
Many teens and young adults fall into a gap between cancer treatment programs designed for children and those designed for adults. It often takes them longer to get a diagnosis and treatment. Teens and young adults are much less likely than children to get the most advanced treatments by taking part in research studies (clinical trials).
Learning that you have cancer is a big deal, but we know that there's a lot more to your life than cancer treatment. We work with you to plan the best treatment for your specific situation. We focus on helping you meet your full potential, both during and after cancer treatment.
I'm not a child anymore. Why should I come to Seattle Children’s for treatment?
Research shows that, for certain kinds of cancer, teens and young adults have much better results when they are treated at a pediatric hospital like Children’s. Even compared with teens and young adults who have the same treatment plan (protocol) but who go to an adult hospital, those who go to a pediatric hospital have better results (outcomes).
In fact, Seattle Children’s has better outcomes than the national average, especially for patients with certain kinds of leukemia or brain tumors.
Seattle Children’s is the first hospital in the country to open an inpatient unit dedicated to teens and young adults with cancer. The 16-bed unit occupies the entire top level of the Forest zone, providing an age-friendly environment and peer support. This level also includes access to a physical therapy gym and a future outdoor terrace.
Read more about the Cancer Care Unit.
The Latest in Treatments, Research and Clinical Trials
At Children’s, you have access to the most advanced protocols available. These include national clinical trials run by doctors at Children’s and at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Your doctor will be able to tell you about a trial that will be right for your age group and for your needs. In addition, Children’s is a member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and works with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine as part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). You'll be able to take part in clinical trials that are meant for your age group.
Cancer is hard enough, and it's even harder if you have to go through it by yourself. About one third of our patients are adolescents and young adults, which means that by being treated here, you are more likely to meet people your age who are also living with cancer.
How will Seattle Children’s meet my needs?
Your care team will work with you to design a treatment plan based on your individual needs. They know you have plans and goals, and will do everything they can to support you in realizing your full potential.
AYA services include:
A team approach to meet your needs
Beating cancer is more than just a matter of which medicine you take. You'll have support from experts in many specialties, including adolescent medicine, child life services, palliative care, psychiatry and behavioral medicine and social work. Through Children’s School Services and the Hutch School, we will support you in keeping up with your education during treatment. We also work closely with diagnosis-specific experts on the Cancer and Blood Disorders team.
Support for people your age
We have created teen- and young adult–focused educational materials and tools to help you meet your treatment goals. We also work with a teen advisory group made up of patients who are in, or have finished, treatment at Children’s. This group helps us make sure our AYA program makes sense for your needs.
Starting a family may be the furthest thing from your mind right now. But finding ways for you to be able to have biological children one day (preserving fertility) is an important part of planning for life after cancer. We will talk to you about your treatment and how it may affect your fertility. We will also give you educational materials designed just for teens and young adults to help you to understand all of your choices. We can help you get a referral to fertility preservation services in the Seattle area.
Cancer, and cancer treatment, can have long-term effects. Our Cancer Survivor Program provides support even after you finish your treatment.
Transition to adult care
As you get older, it might make sense for you to move to adult care. We work closely with UW Medicine and the SCCA to help you make this change when appropriate.
Concerns about paying for care or insurance coverage should not get in the way of your treatment. Children’s has financial counseling to meet your particular needs so that you can focus on getting healthy.
We have a page on Facebook
See what other adolescents and young adults have to say at our Facebook page.