The treatment of adolescents and young adults
Cancer is a rare condition in those aged between 13 and 25 years. It is, therefore, important to recognise the special situation of patients in this age group being treated for malignant disease (educational, work-related, physiological, psychological and social) and to tailor treatment accordingly.
In 2002, the Department of Childhood and Adolescent Oncology established the first unit for adolescents (13-20 years) with cancer, known as « La Montagne » (The Mountain).
The SPIAJA programme
A programme with psychological, social and educational components was developed by a team dedicated to the care of adolescents: doctors, nurses, care assistants, psychologist, psychomotrician, a specialised educational expert, a teacher from the National Education System, and one from the School in the Hospital charitable association).
Simultaneously, the Department of Medical Oncology created a leisure area reserved for young adults (18-25 years).
For these patients at the key ages between 13 and 25 years, the AYA team has a triple focus:
- Equal access to care and to chances of cure for these patients, who sometimes have rare cancers. This requires a highly specialised medical team and collaboration between oncologists working in adult medicine and those working in paediatrics;
- Good quality of life both during and after the illness by virtue of arrangements responding to the specific psychosocial needs of this population;
- Access to clinical trials and the development of clinical research, in order to broaden the range of treatments and increase chances of cure in those cancers with the worst prognosis.