Young Adult Cancer Survivors May Face a Challenging Future

Adolescent and young adult cancer survivors must be their own advocates to live long and well.

BY KATHY LATOUR
PUBLISHED: SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
Oeffinger says he and his staff follow around 1,000 patients who range in age from 17 to 85 who received a cancer diagnosis prior to their 40th birthday. In this group, he has seen numerous second cancers, as well as other late effects. A particular interest for Oeffinger is women who had radiation to the chest area before age 30 and are now at risk for breast cancer. According to a study released at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), their risk is comparable to women who carry the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations. 

“At the end of the day, each person has to make his or her own individual decision about whether or not to be followed and monitored,” he says. “For example, I recently reviewed records of a young adult Hodgkin lymphoma survivor who was not followed in our program. She was not getting any screening, felt a mass in her breast and then waited six months before seeing a physician. Unfortunately by then, her options were limited. Her death was highly avoidable.” 

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Childhood Cancers CURE discussion group.
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