ORANGE, Calif., May 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new effort led by a University of California, Irvine Medical Center oncologist seeks to improve cancer survival for adolescents and young adults. Dr. Leonard S. Sender has long advocated changing the approach oncologists take when treating patients and survivors
"This age group has been neglected. There haven't been advances in their survival rate in more than 20 years. They've hit a plateau," says Sender, medical director of clinical operations at UC Irvine's Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer and medical director of the Cancer Institute at CHOC Children's. "To truly advance care for this population, adolescent and young adult oncology must be recognized as a distinct subspecialty, with a professional organization and publication to support it."
The publication is the official journal of the newly formed Society for Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.
Seventy thousand new patients are diagnosed each year. Sender says the medical profession tends to divide them into two groups: children and older adults — those over 50 who face colon, prostate, breast, lung and other common cancers. Because oncology offices see few adolescents and young adults, most put them in one group or the other. The consequences can be deadly.
Yet many oncologists treat them as they would older adults, who can't tolerate the higher, more frequent doses of chemotherapy.
"They don't understand this unique group of patients," Sender says. "Their treatment is less aggressive than the patients can handle. If we could raise that awareness, survival rates could improve."
Sender wants to see more research devoted to cancers that usually afflict young adults – leukemia and thyroid, testicular and ovarian cancer.
Young adults also have different emotional and social needs than children and older adults.
"This is the most exciting time in a person's life, when they're learning to be independent, and suddenly it's interrupted with a cancer diagnosis," Sender says. "For them, it can easily mean the end of a relationship. They often have to put college on hold, lose their jobs and can't get insurance."
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County's largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. More news: www.today.uci.edu.
SOURCE University of California, Irvine Medical Center
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