New NCCN Guidelines for Patients Available for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

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The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), with support from the NCCN Foundation and the LIVESTRONG Foundation and through collaboration with Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance (Critical Mass), recently announced the availability of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA).

Unique Challenges

According to the LIVESTRONG Foundation, more than 70,000 young adults, ages 15 through 39, are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the survival rates for young adults have not increased since 1975, unlike the dramatic improvement seen in children and older adults. Patients within this age group, often falling between general demographics for pediatric and adult oncology, face a unique set of challenges, such as reentry into school or the workforce, insurance coverage issues, infertility resulting from treatment, neurocognitive effects, and secondary malignancies.

“The unique psychosocial and economic issues of adolescent and young adult patients with cancer have major influences on morbidity and mortality,” said Peter F. Coccia, MD, Ittner Professor and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha. Dr. Coccia is a member of the NCCN Board of Directors and Chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Young Adult Oncology. “Experts in AYA oncology from all 21 NCCN member institutions developed both the NCCN Guidelines for AYA Oncology for medical professionals and the NCCN AYA Guidelines for Patients. It is their hope and expectation that both sets of guidelines will contribute to optimizing care and improving outcomes in AYA patients with cancer.”

Distinct Biology

“The biology of cancer in adolescents and young adults differs from that in both younger and older cancer patients,” said Brandon Hayes-Lattin, MD, Senior Medical Advisor, LIVESTRONGFoundation. Dr. Hayes-Lattin is Associate Professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Medical Director, AYA Oncology Program at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute, and a young adult cancer survivor. “This group also faces unique challenges around important issues such as peer support, diagnosis, treatment, and fertility. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults provides invaluable information that can help these patients and their loved ones make sense of the diagnosis and work with their health-care team to make the best cancer care decisions possible.”

NCCN aims to provide people with cancer and the general public with state-of-the-art cancer treatment information in easy-to-understand language. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients, translations of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, are meant to help people with cancer talk with their physicians about the best treatment options for their disease. These NCCN Guidelines for Patients do not replace the expertise and clinical judgment of the physician.

Empowering Patients

“We are pleased to announce the public availability of the adolescent and young adult oncology guidelines for patients,” said Patricia J. Goldsmith, NCCN’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The objective of NCCN Guidelines for Patients is to empower people with cancer to take a more active role in their treatment. In making such resources available to adolescents, young adults, and their caregivers, NCCNstrives to allow these young people to focus on recovery by offering a source of confidence in understanding diagnoses, treatment options, and their subsequent effects. NCCN is appreciative of the support and collaboration from the LIVESTRONGFoundation and Critical Mass, which made this important guideline possible.”

NCCN offers 11 other NCCN Guidelines for Patients, including those for breast, colon, non–small cell lung, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, chronic myelogenous leukemia, malignant pleural mesothelioma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, and lung cancer screening. ■

Editor’s note: Watch future issues of The ASCO Post for an in-depth interview with Dr. Peter Coccia about the new patient-friendly guidelines.

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