Young Adults and Cancer: The Issues

Why is young adults and cancer an issue?

Each year, nearly 70,000 young adults in their 20s and 30s are diagnosed with cancer; Cancer is the leading disease killer among 20-39 year-olds.

In contrast to younger and older cancer patients, survival rates for young adults have not increased since 1975.

  • No one is certain why survival rates are not improving for this age group, but factors may include lack of insurance, less participation in clinical trials and delayed diagnoses.

Often the young patient is caught between the worlds of pediatric and adult oncology.

  • This can result in the patient receiving treatment from caregivers who are not well versed in the psychosocial and developmental issues facing young adults.
  • Young adults tend to be diagnosed with different types of cancer than older and younger patients, and the biological differences that exist result in different treatment needs.
  • It can be quite difficult for young adult patients to locate peers who are going through the same experiences for the support that is so critical at this age and stage of life.

Young adult cancer survivors may face a variety of long-term effects that will need to be addressed over their lifetimes, such as:

  • Reentry into school or the workforce
  • Insurance coverage issues
  • Infertility as a result of treatment
  • Neurocognitive effects
  • Secondary malignancies

Download the following reports:

A Snapshot of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer

Planning for the Future
Closing the Gap – Research and Care Imperatives for AYAs with Cancer

Moving Forward
Closing the Gap – A Strategic Plan