Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults
Children's Mercy provides dedicated services for adolescents and young adults with cancer (age 13 and older). The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) program is designed to support patients receiving treatment for cancer or blood disorders. After age 21 we work with adult Hematology/Oncology
providers to ensure our patients receive full support as they transition into adult care.
Dedicated Staff for Treating Young Adult Cancer
Our program is designed to meet the unique needs of AYA patients. Our team of providers includes social workers,
child life specialists, nutritionists, physicians, nurses, nurse
practitioners, and research coordinators. But the most
important members of this team are the patient and their families.
We are constantly seeking feedback and striving to improve the
quality of care.
Programs and Services
Our team provides clinical services and support specifically designed for children being treated for cancers and blood disorders. Services include the support of specially trained Child Life professionals, nutrition-planning, fertility counseling, and masters-level social workers.
A Child Life Specialist is trained to meet the developmental, emotional and psycho-social needs of AYA patients and their families by advocating for children in all areas of the hospital. Child Life Specialists aid in pain management and assist with positive coping skills. They provide AYA patients with age-appropriate teaching about treatment and diagnosis, provide opportunities for social interaction, and many other support services.
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Hematology/Oncology social workers are masters level professionals who are available to provide supportive counseling and address the emotional and social needs of the patient and family. They also provide access to resources and assist with transition to adult care, educational needs, and mental health concerns. All patients with cancer or a blood disorder have access to a social worker.
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The AYA program seeks to provide fertility education and services to all patients who may be affected. We work with several different specialties to promote fertility education and treatment options. Additionally, we are developing partnerships with adult fertility specialists to enable wider access to treatment options.
Nutrition plays an important role during cancer treatment and treatment of blood disorders. Proper nutrition will help improve the body's ability to handle therapy, maintain lean body mass, and enhance quality of life. At Children's Mercy Hospital, Registered Dietitians work with patients that have cancer or blood disorders to ensure that their individual nutrition needs are being met.
Improving Survival Rates of Young Adult Cancer
The survival rate of children with cancer has greatly improved over the past 40 years. This is largely due to the participation of patients in clinical research trials. Unfortunately, in the United States only 10 percent of patients ages 15-19 and only 1-2 percent of the patients ages 20-39 enroll in clinical trials. At Children's Mercy we want to help patients improve the outcomes of AYA cancer patients by offering the opportunity for AYA patients to participate in clinical trials. Physicians, nurse practitioners, and research coordinators work together to find clinical research trials that are available for our patients. Enrolling in a trial may not be the best option for every patient and we work closely with the patient and family to evaluate the best possibilities for the individual patients needs.
We have several different types of trials available:
- Trials that look at how we can help support patients during their diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
- Trials open that look at different treatments for cancer or blood disorders. These include trials looking at newly available drugs.
- Trials that look at how we can decrease the side effects of the medications we use to treat cancer.