Facing a cancer diagnosis at any age is unnerving. For adolescents and young adults, there are many unique considerations. Data from the National Cancer Institute confirms that strong outcomes are achieved when cancer is treated at a pediatric facility using pediatric treatment protocols.
Children’s Minnesota has a dedicated program that caters to the specialized needs of this population. The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer program is designed for patients between the ages of 15 to 30 years. We accept new patients from 15 to 26 years of age within 48 hours of referral. The program focuses on getting patients healthy and optimizing quality of life. Our cutting edge treatment plans are targeted to the unique molecular tumor characteristic, but are also chosen to minimize future developmental, psychological, and emotional consequences.
As a leading pediatric cancer hospital in the country, the AYA program at Children’s Minnesota carefully balances necessary medical interventions with an individualized, holistic plan of care. Board-certified providers practice with a synergistic and integrative multidisciplinary care model that considers the unique needs of this age group, including variations in cancer types, tumor cell biology, prognosis, and survivorship.
We coordinate care with trained specialists in areas such as endocrinology, gynecology, genetics and genomic medicine, physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychologists, and registered dietitians and nutritionists, to further enhance and support the patient experience. Patients and their families are empowered to be involved and take an active role in the course of treatment. The team regularly partners with referring providers and primary care physicians to discuss the treatment plan, give progress updates, and manage end of therapy planning for surveillance follow-up.
Pharmacogenetic evaluations allow customization of medical treatment regimens and avoid toxicity. When appropriate, patients may be enrolled in one or more active clinical trials, including tumor banking studies and large, multicenter studies. With over 100 active research studies currently recruiting patients in the cancer and blood disorders program at Children’s Minnesota, AYA patients are able to augment therapeutic options and improve outcomes.
“Based on NCCN [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] guidelines, we provide expertise in managing developmental issues including fertility and sexual function, education and career development, employment, spiritual care, genetic and familial cancer risks, and other age-appropriate psychological needs.” – Dr. Julie Chu, AYA Cancer Program Director
The expert team at Children’s Minnesota is specially trained to prioritize confidential discussions around sexual and reproductive health, while also openly addressing potential risks to fertility. The program provides 24/7 consultation services for fertility preservation opportunities and offers the possibility for a pre-treatment referral to fertility specialists.
Not only do patients have the advantage of receiving care from the only fellowship-trained pediatric and adolescent gynecologists in Minnesota, but Children’s Minnesota is the only health system in the Twin Cities metro area to offer pediatric ovarian tissue preservation resources in high-risk scenarios. Due to this robust onco-fertility service, patients have a higher chance of successfully having children of their own when the time is right.
To connect with one of our AYA Cancer program experts, call the Children’s Minnesota Physician Access Line 24/7 at 1-866-755-2121.
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