Teens with Cancer are Different
Ask any teen and they will emphatically explain that teens are not “kids." And that's true.
Adolescents aren't children. But even though some may reach a mature physical size by their mid-teen years, they are also not yet adults.
And when it comes to cancer, teens are unique. They are between childhood and young adulthood in the types of cancers they develop. In fact, some kinds of cancers pretty much only occur in adolescents. Treatments designed for younger or older patients often don’t work as well for teens. And while these young people may be facing cancer, they're also confronting all the usual issues of adolescence.
Teens are special, and it seems that teens with cancer do better when their special needs are recognized by providing resources that are tailored specifically to them.
Special needs of teens
Diagnosis: The starting point for curing cancer in adolescents is to determine exactly what kind of cancer is present. Tests performed on these cancers may be different in teens from those done on adults or younger children.
Treatment: Every patient deserves the best chance of a cure. Teens with cancer need treatments that work specifically for their cancers. During the past 40 years, research has raised the long-term survival rate of childhood cancers from 10% to over 70%. That research effort continues today with a strong emphasis on adolescent patients.
Late effects: Adolescents cured of cancer can look forward to living life as an adult. But since some cancer therapies can lead to health risks later on, it’s particularly important to plan for the future in developing better, safer treatments for these young individuals. Equally important is ensuring that the health of these emerging adults is monitored well into the future.
Family and friends: When a teen is diagnosed with cancer, many other people are directly affected. Support services need to be available immediately, and over a longer period of time. Parents, siblings, relatives, and friends all have their own needs.
How you can help
In partnership with Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation, a comprehensive website has been developed exclusively for teens with cancer: http://www.teenslivingwithcancer.org
Parents, teens, family, teachers and friends are encouraged to explore its resources and offerings. Your feedback is always welcome.
Reprinted with the permission of CureSearch. © 2005 CureSearch
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