Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program
The adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer typically do not receive as much attention as children and older adults, but about 89,000 AYAs are diagnosed each year. In 2013, John Stoddard Cancer Center and Blank Children's Hospital, services of UnityPoint Health - Des Moines, developed the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program. As the first of its kind in Iowa, this innovative program is designed to better address the unique needs of cancer patients between the ages of 15 and 39 and improve their survival rates.
Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Team
A highly skilled team of committed individuals from John Stoddard Cancer Center and Blank Children's Hospital have joined together to provide comprehensive, coordinated care to adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients.
Our AYA program coordinator identifies and coordinates support and resources available to patients in the AYA program. The coordinator serves as an advocate in the community for cancer health promotional activities and events.
The purpose of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program involves several important goals:
- Establish AYA as a distinct group of cancer patients, educate, and gain broad acceptance among our stakeholders
- Increase awareness in the medical community
- Educate the AYA population and improve patient experience by AYA specific care coordination
- Improve our understanding of host, biologic and treatment factors by increasing local clinical trial enrollment and tumor banking
- Develop standards of excellence for access to diagnostic, treatment, and follow-up care for AYAs in our community
Connecting with other young patients
Resources for family caregivers
Child Life Specialists help children find ways to cope with fear and anxiety when they or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer. By using play, recreation, and educational techniques, they enable children to better understand what is happening and reduce stress. Child Life is available for patients and their families.
Learn more about Child Life.
Clinical trials are an important treatment option for cancer patients of all ages since they provide the most up-to-date treatments. Participation of more adolescents and young adults in clinical trials will help improve treatment, survival, and understanding of the types of cancers that occur in patients in this age group.
Learn more about AYA Clinical Trials
Free psychological counseling services are available to patients and their family members.
Learn more about counseling services.
Before treatment, the doctor will start the conversation regarding risks to fertility. The AYA program coordinator can help explain the process to preserve your fertility and/or make a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist.
Through a simple blood test, we can determine whether or not individuals carry a mutated gene that causes breast, ovarian or colorectal cancer, or are at higher risk for related cancers. Those who test "positive" for the genetic mutation work with a trained counselor to develop an appropriate risk reduction plan.
Learn more about genetic testing.
Nutritional assessment and education
A registered dietitian with specialized experience and certification in oncology nutrition is able to help patients deal with the side effects that come along with their disease and offer guidance to help improve their nutritional status.
Learn more about nutritional services.
Social Work/Case Management
Staff members are available to identify individual patient needs. A case manager can also facilitate and coordinate issues such as Medical and General Power of Attorney, Advanced Directives or Living Wills, Guardianship and Conservatorship. Additionally, the case manager can assist with decisional making about ethical issues and initiate referrals to the bio-ethics committee as needed.
Learn more about case management.
Coffee and Conversations is a support group for adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology patients, survivors and family. This support group brings AYAs together for conversations, guidance and understanding. Provided in conjunction with Children's Cancer Connection.
Learn more about the support group.
This free session is offered to cancer survivors who have completed cancer therapy and are now looking forward to maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life beyond cancer. The interview is a one-time visit with an oncology-certified nurse who will review your treatments and their long-term side effects, your care plan for health promotion and maintenance, and any concerns you have about your quality of life.
Learn more about survivorship services at Blank Children's Hospital and John Stoddard Cancer Center.
Connect with us on our AYA social media sites: