Roswell Park Creates Center of Excellence for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

Friday, February 11, 2011

New “AYA” program first in New York State

(BUFFALO, NY) -- Roswell Park Cancer Institute has created an Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) with Cancer program to expand and enhance its treatment and services addressing the medical, social, psychological, cultural and educational needs of young adults facing cancer. The program will be funded by The Steadfast Foundation.

Nearly 70,000 American young adults and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year. While dramatic  progress has been made in the treatment of children with cancer, survival rates for adolescents and young adults have not improved significantly since 1975.

“This trend is likely to continue because this age group is poorly represented in clinical trials, and a number of the tumors that affect this population are particularly aggressive (i.e., sarcomas, leukemias, brain tumors and germ cell tumors),” explained Lynda Kwon Beaupin, MD, newly named coordinator of the AYA program at RPCI. “Unfortunately, for many AYA patients, diagnosis may be delayed due to a lack of awareness on the part of the patient, the parents or the healthcare provider that cancer could be the cause of the symptoms.  In addition, cultural and economic factors play a role,” said Beaupin.

Patients in the new program—which will focus primarily on individuals ages 15 to 29— will receive a minimum of three consultations in addition to their regular visits with their disease site specialists (e.g. breast; lymphoma, etc.) managing their care. All patients in this group will be offered additional consultations if desired at any point in their cancer journey. 

“We will assess psychosocial needs, educational needs and evaluate the risks of infertility associated with cancer therapy,” said Martin Brecher, MD, the Waldemar J. Kaminski Chair in Pediatrics at RPCI. “In addition, patients will be given avenues to network with other AYA patients, and we will address any survivorship issues upon completion of their treatment.”

Dr. Brecher added that one of the primary focuses of the AYA program will be to ensure that both pediatric and adult clinical trials have been considered as part of the patient’s treatment plan. The AYA program will work with other cancer centers and clinical research organizations to make available an expanded portfolio of clinical trials targeted to the AYA age group.

“We’ll be utilizing the multidisciplinary, disease-specific treatment approach that is already the standard of care at RPCI and at our partner institution in delivering pediatric care, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo,” he said. “The new AYA program will bring together the top experts in both adult and pediatric oncology to develop the very best treatment plans for our patients.”

Dr. Beaupin added that the AYA program will also provide a unique opportunity to build a database specific to teenagers and young adults with cancer.

“This unique database will integrate both clinical tissue banking and biologic information on each patient—essential ingredients for the development of new treatments.  New findings would be disseminated to our colleagues across the country to help speed critically needed progress in the field.”

For more information about the AYA program at RPCI, contact Dr. Lynda Beaupin at 716-845-2333 or email lynda.beaupin@roswellpark.org.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org