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Next-generation care for the next generation

Teens and young adults who have cancer have better outcomes if they’re treated at cancer centers that care for both children and adults. That combination of expertise – along with support services that meet the unique needs of young adults – can make all the difference.

Uniting world-class experts

The new UK HealthCare Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program brings together doctors and specialists from both the DanceBlue Hematology/Oncology Clinic and the UK Markey Cancer Center. The new program takes a novel approach to treating patients ages 15 to 29, with a focus not only on treatment but also on the emotional and social needs of this age group. “It’s a population that’s underserved and has unique needs,” says Dr. John D’Orazio, chief of pediatric hematology and oncology.

Caring for medical and social needs

With the specialized resources of the AYA Program, UK HealthCare is making the treatment process easier for young adult patients and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals.

Patients in this age group often struggle with the loss of autonomy that can come with a cancer diagnosis. They aren’t children anymore, but the pressures of school or work can be burdensome when coupled with a cancer diagnosis. School work and social lives may suffer during treatment, and maintaining a job can be a challenge for those starting out in the workforce. This age group may also have trouble keeping up with other responsibilities during treatment, including appointments, bills and more.

“It’s a population that’s underserved and has unique needs.” Dr. John D'Orazio

Latest treatments now

Patients in the AYA Program receive treatment at either the pediatric DanceBlue Clinic or Markey, depending on their diagnosis. Those with sarcomas, lymphoma, and testicular and ovarian cancers are usually treated in the pediatric clinic. Patients with colorectal, breast or thyroid cancers receive treatment in the adult clinic. All young adults at the clinic get treatments tailored to their individual needs.

The program also encourages eligible young people in the AYA Program to participate in a clinical trial. Traditionally, young adults don’t participate in clinical trials as frequently as others, so stoking interest in research could help Markey scientists learn more about how cancer affects this particular age group.

Regardless of whether young adults receive their treatment at Markey or the DanceBlue Clinic, they have access to all the resources of the AYA Program, including a nurse practitioner, social worker and school intervention specialist, as well as dietary and pain management support, fertility counseling and genetic counseling. Having someone to talk to about the stress and challenges that come with cancer can be helpful for young adults. In addition, quarterly dinners are planned for patients and families that will offer educational opportunities on topics including financial planning, insurance, healthy eating and other practical issues

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