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Young Adults Get Cancer Too


In the past 30 years, new drugs and better treatments have helped many cancer patients survive longer. But one group hasn't benefited as much from these changes, leading some oncologists to focus increasingly on the role age plays in surviving cancer.

Cancer is the leading disease killer in people age 20 to 39. And while most people who get cancer are still over 65, more than 70,000 young adults between 19 and 40 get cancer every year, eight times as many as the number of patients under the age of 15. 

While children and older adults are surviving longer than they have in the past, rates for young people between the ages of 15 and 40 have barely budged. In the 25- to 35-year-old age group, a recent analysis of National Cancer Institute statistics showed that survival rates have not increased at all since 1975.

The perplexing stall in survival rates for this age group is generating a fresh round of research and treatment efforts. New clinical trials are opening, run by the Children's Oncology Group and others, that will explore issues surrounding cancer in young adults. In addition, major cancer centers, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, are creating programs to address a range of issues in treating young adults. And co-operative efforts involving private groups such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation are looking to identify new approaches and areas of research to fund.

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From: New Programs, Clinical Trials Target Patients 15 to 40 in Effort To Improve Recovery Rates
By Amy Dockser Marcus, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 5, 2005

Below are several helpful programs and organizations dedicated to focusing on and supporting young adult cancer survivors.  Click on the links provided to be taken to the program or organization web page.


SeventyK’s mission is to change cancer care by educating patients, families, and their healthcare providers about age-appropriate treatment and the unique needs of the adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patient.  Unlike pediatric and older adult cancer patients, for over two decades the rate of survival for AYA cancer patients has not improved.


LIVESTRONG recognizes that young adults with cancer slip into a lonely no-man's land. Too old for the instant community of a children's hospital, they still don't fit in with the over-50 community that overwhelmingly populates adult cancer wards. Because young adults with cancer are a relatively small group, the difficulty of finding peer support is increased exponentially, forcing many to deal in isolation with issues specific to this age and stage of life: dating with cancer, disclosure to a potential employer, long-term insurance issues, moving back home, loss of fertility, or having to quit school or a newly launched career. Planet Cancer exists so that no young adult will have to endure such isolation again.


CANCER TRANSITIONS was developed in 2006 as a partnership between LIVESTRONG and the Cancer Support Community.  It is an evidence-based program for survivors of any cancer diagnosis who have completed treatment, and it covers the benefits of exercise, nutrition, emotional support and medical management for cancer survivors.  Visit the websites listed above for additional details.


The Young Adult Alliance was also formed in 2006 as a Lance Armstrong Foundation LIVESTRONG program.  The Alliance was a coalition of organizations including universities and academic medical centers, cancer centers, community hospitals, professional societies, nonprofit/advocacy groups and liason members from relevant government agencies such as the NCI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In 2012  LIVESTRONG granded the Alliance seed money to help establish the Young Adult Alliance as an independent entity.  For more information please email or visit