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?
Adolescents 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 them 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. We focus on the total well-being of adolescents and young adults — not just their fight against cancer.
The AYA program is part of our Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Our patient outcomes are better than the national average for a broad range of cancers.
Our AYA Cancer Program was one of the first in the country for teens and young adults with cancer and blood disorders. Our researcher, Dr. Abby Rosenberg, studies what makes teens and young adults able to stay strong to survive cancer. Our medical director, Dr. Tyler Ketterl, focuses his research on lasting effects after treatment for cancer.
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.
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. Your doctor can tell you about any trials that are right for your age group and for your needs.
Your child will benefit from the work of physician-scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and UW Medicine, as well as at Seattle Children’s. The National Cancer Institute has named our partnership a comprehensive cancer center.
Beating cancer involves more than medical treatment. You will have a whole team behind you.
- As needed you’ll get care from experts in adolescent medicine and in nutrition, nursing, pain management, acupuncture, palliative care, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Read more about the supportive care we offer.
- We support your emotional health through our social workers, psychologists and art and music therapists in our Child Life
- Through Seattle Children's School Services, we help you keep up with your education during treatment.
- Our team goes the extra mile to help you reach milestones. Read how Michael took part in high school graduation from his hospital bed.
- 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 cancer and the treatments that cure it may affect your ability to have biological children one day (fertility).
An important part of planning for life after cancer is learning how it might affect your fertility and whether you can take steps now to protect it. This is called fertility preservation.
Whether fertility preservation is possible for you depends on your age, gender, type of cancer and the treatments you need. We will talk with you about any fertility preservation options that might apply to you. We will help you and your family understand the strengths, limits, successes and science behind each option. Our goal is to help you make the choices that are right for you.
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.
At a certain point, it will make better sense to receive your healthcare from adult care providers. We work closely with UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center to help you make this change at the right time.
“Cancer is part of my story. I am the person I am today because of it. It’s a big part of my identity. In the last 11 years, as I’ve gotten farther away from it, it’s not as central. Over time, it’s become more integrated as a piece of me.”
Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Team
Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program Providers
Wade Iwata, MSW, LICSW
Leah Kroon, MA, MN, RN, CPHON, nurse practice specialist
Gretchen Ione Fry VonHeeder-Phillips, LICSW
Fred Wilkinson, LICSW, Leukemia & Lymphoma team
If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider to refer you.
If you have a referral or would like a second opinion, contact the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at 206-987-2106 or by email.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.
Scheduling an appointment
- How to schedule an appointment at Seattle Children’s.
- If you already have an appointment, learn more about how to prepare.
- Learn about resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.
Telemedicine at Seattle Children’s
You may be offered a telehealth (virtual) appointment. Learn more.
Paying for Care
Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.