There has been increasing recognition in recent years of the unique medical, psychosocial and information needs of adolescent and young adults diagnosed with cancer. The development of lead sites for AYA cancer care is a vital step towards ensuring the best management and care of AYA cancer patients in Australia. While the best standard of care for AYA cancer patients is undoubtedly provided by clinicians who have been specifically trained to care for them, most health professionals in Australian hospitals are predominantly providing care to either adults or children, with AYAs being only a small proportion of their patient profile.
This guidance aims to give health professionals an appreciation of how AYA patients’ age and stage of life may impact their distress levels, self-esteem, family dynamics, need for information and communication, peer relationships, self-identity, body image, perceptions of future, survivorship, existential perspectives and other subjective components of the cancer experience.
It provides information and recommendations about seven key areas:
- Communicating effectively with AYAs diagnosed with cancer
- Supporting AYA relationships
- Addressing aspects of physical wellbeing related to psychosocial health
- Addressing the psychosocial wellbeing of the patient
- Keeping the young person connected with life outside their cancer treatment
- Providing age-appropriate clinical management
- Addressing the palliative care needs of AYA patients
It makes recommendations and includes links to further resources that will help health professionals ensure their young patients receive age-appropriate psychosocial supportive care.
- Fisher M, Kaufman M. Adolescent inpatient units: a position statement of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. J Adolesc Health 1996 Apr;18(4):307-8 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8860796.