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Huntsman Cancer Institute Adolescent and Young Adult (HIAYA) Cancer Care Program

Jun 22, 2021

Huntsman Cancer Institute Adolescent and Young Adult (HIAYA) Cancer Care Program

By: Anna Chalmers, MD

In Utah, approximately 1,200 adolescents and young adults (AYAs), ages 15 to 39, are diagnosed with cancer each year. These patients face unique challenges. Cancer at this age can disrupt important lifestyle milestones as well as raise fertility concerns. Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is dedicated to providing the extra care needed for AYA patients. Many of the medical oncologists at HCI have experience with AYA challenges within their cancer specialty. There are also fertility specialists with a particular interest in cancer patients. To help guide patients to the appropriate resources, HCI has a dedicated AYA patient navigator, Karlie Allen, MS.   

Additionally, several years after completing treatment, cancer survivors have distinctive challenges. The Supportive Oncology and Survivorship (SOS) group have a particular interest in AYA survivorship. Being treated for cancer at a young age can lead to complications many years later, which are important to recognize and follow. Organs may still be developing in these patients, and there is a substantially higher risk for long-term and late effects from cancer treatment.

Over two-thirds of these patients have at least one major medical comorbidity as a result of their cancer treatment. Due to the high risk of developing serious complications, it is crucial that these patients are seen by someone knowledgeable in survivorship issues. At HCI, we provide yearly visits for survivors to screen for early signs of major medical comorbidities, provide anticipatory guidance, and help optimize their health. We review our survivors’ medical histories and create a survivorship care plan that can be followed by other providers.

Dr. Paige Patterson, as an internist and a pediatrician, is an AYA survivorship specialist, who can provide direct management treating long-term and late effects. These patients can be seen in a joint clinic by sarcoma medical oncologist, Anna Chalmers, MD to coordinate care.

As a research institution, HCI is also proud of AYA research. This includes the Kirchhoff research group lead by Anne Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH and innumerable clinical trials available for AYA patients.