The Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care Program, or AYA Cancer Program, is part of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital Colorado and is one of the leading programs of its kind.
About the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care Program
From puberty to about age 25, adolescents and young adults respond differently to cancer treatment than younger children and older adults. Research shows that they metabolize medications differently, and their cancers are biologically different from similar cancers in other age groups. Even the types of cancer that affect young people are different.
Our AYA oncology specialists have been studying and treating cancer in this specific age group since these differences were first discovered, and we're still the only program in the region geared specifically toward teens and young adults living with cancer.
Multidisciplinary cancer support
We recognize this age group is in a stage of life where they seek independence, and that a potentially life-threatening cancer diagnosis is a blow to that independence. We also know that this age group may experience other unique psychological and social challenges, which is why our program provides multidisciplinary cancer support for young adults.
In addition to pediatric oncologists and other cancer-specific specialists like radiologists and oncology nurses, we set each of our patients up with a one-on-one licensed social worker at diagnosis. The social worker offers personalized recommendations for all the resources we offer, from peer support groups to clinical psychologists to spiritual care. This can also include visits with our child life specialists, who support AYA patients of all ages and help them cope in developmentally appropriate ways. It can also include visits with physical and occupational therapists, who help with movement and other important skills. And when the course of treatment may affect patients' future ability to have children of their own, we partner with fertility specialists to preserve fertility for family planning.
We also work closely with primary care physicians and even with many outside oncology providers where possible, to make treatment easier for families who must travel. We believe our patients do best close to home, but our family navigator is available to help families make arrangements when they have to be here.
Why choose us for adolescent and young adult cancer care
Although adults as old as 25 and even older typically don't see pediatric specialists, the cancers that affect this age group — such as leukemia and bone sarcomas — tend to be more common in pediatrics. They're also rare: An adult oncologist might treat a handful of cases in their entire career.
At the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, we treat these cancers and only these cancers all day, every day. Our patient volume and experience makes us one of the best pediatric oncology, hematology and bone marrow transplant programs in the country. Our center is consistently ranked among the nation's top pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. We have also been recognized by Parents magazine as a top cancer center.
Not only do we have more experience than other centers in the region in treating cancer in teens and young adults, we're also the only center in the region that specifically addresses the treatment differences in pediatric cancers between teens and young adults and younger patients. Because these patients differ from our younger ones, we partner closely with UCHealth — our neighbor on the Anschutz Medical Campus — to make sure they get the best of both adult and pediatric worlds.
Unparalleled access to adolescent and young adult cancer research
We partner with other pediatric programs across the nation to advance the standard of care through research. These partnerships, in addition to our volume and experience, make us a U.S. Food and Drug Administration Oncology Center of Excellence. This designation allows us to take part in clinical trials for cutting-edge treatments offered at only a handful of institutions around the country. Our partnership with UCHealth gives our patients access to many adult clinical trials as well — meaning our patients get the newest, most promising medicines, often before they're available anywhere else.
These treatments include many genetic and immunotherapies. In fact, we are currently developing CAR-T cells — patients' own immune cells genetically modified to fight cancer cells — which have achieved an astonishing 80% remission rate for acute lymphoblastic lymphoma in clinical trials. These novel cancer therapies often achieve excellent outcomes while minimizing side effects.
We also offer advanced diagnostics, developing increasingly precise testing for specific gene mutations within many types of pediatric cancers, allowing more targeted, personalized treatment than ever before.
Who we treat at the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care Program
Our program treats primarily adolescent and teenage cancer patients, as well as young adults. Types of cancer we typically treat include:
Contact the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care Program
We welcome consultations, questions and referrals. Call 720-777-6740.