Podcast: Preserving fertility before treatment
Adolescent and young adult cancer patients face a unique set of challenges. They may be working toward completing their education, applying to college or pursing job training. They’re often beginning their careers and may be starting a family or planning for one. Cancer makes all of these more difficult and more complicated.
That’s why MD Anderson offers the Adolescent and Young Adult Program. The program serves patients age 15-29, whether in active treatment or post-therapy survivorship. These patients receive the same treatment from the same teams of experts that make MD Anderson a top-ranked cancer center. Through the AYA Program, they also get access to counseling and care that helps them manage the milestones and challenges that come with being a cancer patient at such a pivotal time of life.
AYA Program services
Psychosocial and Supportive Care: It can be hard for teens and young adults with cancer to manage the emotional and social challenges that come at this time in their lives. AYA Program patients can receive individualized recommendations and referrals to MD Anderson psychosocial and supportive services. These include
- educational and vocational assessments
- counseling to help with self-esteem, body image, emotions, health behaviors, and other issues
- social work and assistance identifying financial support
- peer support.
Onco-Fertility/Fertility Preservation: Many of the treatments that save patients’ lives have short- and long-term consequences, including possible infertility for males and females. Despite this, few AYA patients turn to sperm banking or egg/embryo preservation. Our program offers counseling and assistance for pursing fertility options. This includes educating patients about costs and how to access insurance benefits. The program can also facilitate referrals to outside sources for sperm banking, urology, and gynecology for further evaluations.
Genetic Testing: Some cancer patients can pass a predisposition to developing cancer down to their children. The AYA Program can provide access to genetic counseling and state-of-the-art screening technologies to help patients make informed decisions about family planning. As we learn more, we can also develop guidelines for evidence-based screening and surveillance to benefit future patients.
Survivorship: It’s important to develop a plan for screening, surveillance, and prevention that takes into account each cancer survivor's risks. Each survivor's plan should account for the patient's cancer diagnosis and treatment, lifestyle and behaviors, and other health conditions. Our AYA Program provides comprehensive screening and facilitates effective transitions from pediatric to AYA and ultimately to adult survivorship services when the time is appropriate.
Why should AYA patients come to MD Anderson?
MD Anderson treats approximately 7,000 adolescent and young adult patients a year through more than 30,000 visits. MD Anderson’s AYA program is the only one in the Houston area offering these comprehensive, focused services and care specifically designed for adolescent and young adult patients.
In addition, AYA patients have access to the high quality care and clinical trials offered by MD Anderson, the top-rated cancer hospital for adults in the nation, according to US News and World Reports.
The AYA Program's administrative hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Phone: Nerissa Maldonado, program coordinator, 713-745-4451
The Adolescent & Young Adult Scholarship Program at the Children’s Cancer Hospital provides funding to cancer patients and survivors who are continuing their education at an accredited trade school, undergraduate school or graduate school. Online applications are due by May 13, 2019; mailed applications must be postmarked by May 6.
AYA Questions and Answers
From Ewing’s sarcoma patient to medical student
"Medicine seemed like a great avenue for my talents and passions. And I wanted to give back and be part of the community that saved my life," says Ewing's sarcoma survivor Bucky Ribbeck.
A survivor's advice for helping teens with cancer
"At age 17, I was diagnosed with melanoma. As I learned, cancer is tough, especially for teens, who often think they are immune to it," says Haley Kurisky.
How young adult patients can find social support
How are you supposed to manage the stress of cancer at a time when it feels like life is just really getting started? One thing that can help is social support.
Life as a young adult cancer survivor
"My diagnosis came at a very interesting time in my life. I was not young enough to be 'a kid' with cancer and not old enough to be perceived as 'an adult' with cancer," says Kayce Smith.