The Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program was established in 2003 as a joint venture between the Department of Oncology and the Department of Medicine.
The program—the first of its kind in Québec—addresses the exceptional needs of cancer patients between the ages of 18-29 years.
- The goals of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology include the following:
- To provide optimal multidisciplinary care to this unique patient population, that requires a distinctive treatment approach;
- To register more adolescents and young adults in multi-centre research protocols and projects, at the national and international levels;
- To develop and participate in in-house protocols for this patient group;
- To improve the quality of teaching and research in this field of cancer therapy;
- To improve patient access to social services, and psychological and psychiatric support.
The experience of young adults with cancer is often very different from that of other cancer patients. Caught between childhood and adulthood, they face medical and psychological challenges that require special attention. Young adults do not present the same type of cancers as adults, and they do not fare as well when they are prescribed adult treatment protocols. This stage of life also presents unique emotional and psychological challenges that are further complicated by having to contend with this disease.
The incidence rate of cancer in young and older adults in North America and Europe has increased by 30% over the last 30 years. However, during the past quarter century, it has been found that cancer patients between the ages of 15-30 have poorer rates of prolonged survival and mortality rate reduction than either younger or older patients.
It was first noted in the USA and the UK that there is a similar age dependent relationship in most common types of cancer in young adults, such as those with leukemia, brain tumours, lymphomas, sarcomas and breast cancer. It was noted by Blyer that age-dependent correlation between outcome improvement, as measured by survival prolongation, and mortality rate reduction for all invasive cancers, was inferior compared to the closest age group, of up to 15 years.
These observations suggested that one reason for the deficit in outcome improvement in young adults was their relative lack of inclusion and participation in clinical trials, and the associated lack of scientific advancement and discovery of more effective therapies. The U.S. Children’s Oncology Group formalized an Adolescent and Young Adult Program in 2002, as recommended by the National Cancer Institute. Similar groups were established at the same time in the UK, as well as a few other countries.
Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology has a patient site at the Jewish General Hospital.
petr.kavan [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Petr Kavan)
(514) 340-8222 x 24210