Treatments and Services
Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program
What is the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program?
Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program gives expert medical care and support to teens and young adults into their late 20s with all forms of cancer.
Why have a separate AYA Cancer Program?
Teens and young adults with cancer have different challenges than 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 longer to get a diagnosis and start treatment. Teens and young adults are much less likely than children to get the most advanced treatments offered in research studies (clinical trials).
There’s a lot more to your life than cancer treatment. We work with you to plan the best treatment for your specific situation. Our goal is to give you the best chance of a long and healthy life.
What’s special about the AYA Cancer Program at Seattle Children’s?
Research has shown that, for certain kinds of cancer, teens and young adults have better results when they are treated at a pediatric hospital like Seattle Children’s. We believe our focus on the whole person and involving their family helps our patients beat their disease.
Our team is determined that you keep being the person you want to be – regardless of your cancer diagnosis. Our medical director, Dr. Tyler Ketterl, focuses his research on the total well-being of adolescents and young adults – not just their fight against cancer.
For more than a decade, our Cancer Center has been consistently ranked among the top pediatric oncology programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. It has the highest ranking in the Northwest for 2019-20.
Our AYA Cancer Program was one of the first in the country for teens and young adults with cancer and blood disorders.
About one-third of our patients with cancer at Seattle Children’s are adolescents and young adults. By being treated here, you are more likely to meet people your age who are also living with cancer. Support from peers can help you get through it.
If you need to stay overnight in the hospital, you’ll have a room near other patients your age. This area has easy access to a rooftop garden and physical therapy gym. Shared pizza night is a regular part of our routine.
We work with a teen advisory group made up of patients who either are in or have finished treatment at Seattle Children’s. This group helps us be sure our AYA Program makes sense for your needs.
Because Seattle Children’s is a research leader, our patients have access to advanced treatments being studied in clinical trials, including Phase 1 trials. These early studies of new options are especially important for young people with cancer that does not respond well to early treatment or that comes back. Your doctor will be able to tell you about any trials that are right for your age group and for your needs.
Through our partnership in Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our patients benefit from the work of physician-scientists at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine, as well as at Seattle Children’s. The National Cancer Institute has designated our partnership a comprehensive cancer center.
Beating cancer involves more than medical treatment. You’ll have a whole team behind you.
- As needed you’ll get care from experts in adolescent medicine and in nutrition, nursing, pain management, acupuncture, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Read more about the supportive care we offer.
- Your emotional health is supported with help from our social workers, psychologists and art and music therapists in our Child Life group.
- Through Seattle Children’s School Services we help you keep up with your education during treatment.
- We also support you and your family with financial counseling, housing, transportation, interpreter services and spiritual care. Read about our services for patients and families.
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 for teens and young adults to help you understand all your choices. We can help you get a referral to fertility preservation services in the Seattle area.
- Learn more about fertility preservation.
- Read about Shannon’s experience with fertility preservation before treatment.
- Watch our videos about cancer treatments and fertility preservation:
Cancer Treatments and a Woman's Fertility
Cancer Treatments and Fertility – Options for Males
When you finish treatment, you can keep getting support by joining our survivor group.
People who have been cured of cancer may be affected for months or years by their disease or treatment. Our Cancer Survivor Program provides long-term follow-up to help young people stay healthy after being treated for cancer.
Another specialized program through our partnership in the SCCA provides follow-up care for those who have had a stem cell transplant.
At a certain point, it will make better sense to receive your health care from adult care providers. We work closely with UW Medicine and the SCCA to help you make this change at the right time.
To make an appointment, you can call us directly or get a referral from your primary care provider. We encourage you to coordinate with your family doctor when coming to Seattle Children’s.
If you are a provider, see how to refer a patient.