WH&Y authors: Doctor Sharon Medlow
Citation: Baird H, Patterson P, Medlow S, Allison KR. Understanding and improving survivorship care for adolescents and young adults with cancer. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology 2019;8:581-6
Purpose: To explore and highlight the opportunities and challenges that underlie the development of survivorship care for adolescent and young adult cancer.
Methods: A multimethod approach was used, with perspectives of survivors, relatives, and health care professionals elicited through an online survey, focus group, and semistructured interviews.
Results: Four themes were identified using thematic analysis: adjusting to life after cancer, transition to community-based care, ongoing change and reform of health care, and supporting survivorship services. Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) and their families struggled with the transition from active treatment, which was complicated by ongoing disease/treatment impacts and a collective dearth of knowledge and resources on how to support AYAs during this time. Limited confidence and communication in patient–general practitioner relationships complicated the transition to community-based care, with treatment summaries and survivorship care plans an underused resource. A growing movement toward integrated, holistic, and equitable survivorship care was identified, but progress has been fragmented and under-resourced. Further research, funding, and advocacy are needed to support ongoing survivorship initiatives.
Conclusions: Although some survivorship concerns are common across age groups, others are specific to AYAs' developmental stage, emphasizing the need for integrated, age-appropriate, and targeted survivorship services for AYAs. The transition from active treatment to longer term survivorship presents challenges for ongoing clinical care and support; change is needed at individual, service, and system levels to provide quality, sustainable, and integrated care to AYA cancer survivors.
About The Authors
Dr Sharon Medlow is a Senior Research Fellow in the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health at the...