The 2nd Global Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Congress took place in Atlanta, GA, in early December 2017.Our Program Manager, Rachel, attended and presented a poster titled, Raising AYA Cancer Awareness through Personal Narrative. The conference brought over 400 attendees, from countries including Australia, Great Britain, France, El Salvador and India. The attendees were healthcare professionals, AYA advocates and researchers, all of whom are dedicated to improving the lives of AYAs who have been diagnosed with cancer .The conference kicked off with an AYA panel who shared their thoughts, some of their responses are below.
In regards to what has helped them along their cancer journey:
- Connecting with other survivors
- Writing a blog post
- Brochures of AYA resources in the waiting room, as AYAs may want resources, but don’t necessarily want to look for them directly
What they believe makes a great care team:
- Willingness to listen
- See the full picture (the physical as well as psychological toll of cancer and understanding what the patient is experiencing outside of the hospital)
- A team that communicates and collaborates together
- Respect for the AYA’s outlook on the treatment plan
Here are some of the interesting lessons learned from the conference
- Of the estimated 14.1 million cancer cases worldwide, 7.5% are AYAs (Presented by Dr. Fidler, International Agency for Research on Cancer)
- AYAs continue to have the lowest clinical trial accrual rate and both U.S. national mortality rates and survival rates are correlated with clinical trial activity (Presented by Dr. Tai, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- With the understanding that providers may be uncomfortable talking to AYAs about sexual issues, Anne Katz of Cancer Care Manitoba, a nurse practitioner and sexuality counselor, advised healthcare professionals to strive for open communication with their patients, regularly assess how their patients are doing, ask and listen to what the patients concerns are and validate these concerns.