Developing a Robust Adolescent and Young Adult Support Program at City of Hope

City Of Hope

Grant: $50,000

Funded by the Cancer Free Generation at Tower Cancer Research Foundation. Cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship are difficult for patients of any age, but these experiences are especially challenging and significant sources of distress for adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients (defined as ages 15-39 at City of Hope). Compared to the pediatric and older adult patient populations, the AYA age group is developmentally unique because they are establishing their identity and formalizing their development in the areas of social relationships, body image, intimacy, and emotional and financial independence. They often experience increased distress during and after treatment as a result of interruptions to major biopsychosocial milestones at this unique developmental stage. However, gaps in medical and psychosocial care have historically resulted in poorer outcomes for AYA patients. Until recently, the unique needs of this population were not recognized, resulting in less medical research and poorer relative improvement in AYA patient survival rates and cancer-related medical outcomes. Programs are needed to address the informational, psychological, physical, social and emotional concerns that research has shown often go unmet from initial diagnosis, well into survivorship. To meet this need City of Hope will establish a model program for AYA patients that operates parallel to medical treatment that screens, triages, and addresses AYA unmet needs in a multidisciplinary and coordinated manner. Leveraging City of Hope’s unmatched expertise in supportive care with our leading-edge cancer care would allow for more immediate, up-front, targeted psychosocial screening to facilitate early interventions for AYA patients across all disease areas at City of Hope who are at high risk for psychosocial and medical challenges. Through this program, City of Hope aims to prevent poor social and emotional treatment outcomes due to chronic distress and demonstrate the value of incorporating targeted support for AYA patients and provide a foundation for long-term program sustainability.