Cancer in AYAs (adolescents and young adults aged 15-24) accounted for 0.8% of all cancer cases diagnosed in Australia in the period 2010-2014.63
The most common cancers affecting AYA in the period from 2010-2014 were melanoma (14.6% of all cancers), gonadal germ cell cancers (13.8%), and Hodgkin lymphoma (13.6%).63
In the period 2010 – 2014, five-year relative survival for AYA diagnosed with cancer was 89%, which was significantly increased from 80% in 1983 – 1989.63
In the period 2011 – 2015:63
- there were 499 cancer deaths in AYA, comprising 8.8% of all deaths in this age group
- the leading causes of cancer death were brain cancer, bone cancer, acute lymphoblastic leulaemia, other soft tissue cancers, and acute myeloid leukaemia.63
Review Table 2.2: The most commonly diagnosed cancers, 15-24 years, by sex 2010-2014 in Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia(PDF, 926KB). AIHW (2018)63
- Summarise the differences in distribution of cancer type related to sex in AYA.
Identify your state/territory cancer plans and programs specific to meeting the needs of AYA with cancer.
Impact of cancer in AYA
Adolescence is a time of dramatic change in physical growth, awareness of body image, and concepts of personal and social self.12 AYA affected by cancer have numerous additional challenges and require specific psychological and social support throughout their cancer journey.5
The uncertainty, self-consciousness, emotional reactivity and still developing cognitive abilities of AYA, combined with their increased exposure to risky situations, makes diagnosis particularly difficult during this life stage.
AYAs need individualised care plans that recognise individual diagnoses, circumstances, and developmental stage.5, 13 Working with AYA affected by cancer necessitates focusing on how normal developmental tasks can be attained while minimising psychological distress.14
Reactions to a diagnosis of cancer in AYA are complex and affected by family relationships and culture, as well as chronological and psychological development. Any care provided must be multi-dimensional and incorporate the needs of the family. While there is limited research about the needs of AYA families specifically, there is evidence that cancer affects the whole family and that family members can experience significant distress.15
The increased demands on family associated with the high care needs of a person with cancer can result in restricted social relationships, work and other responsibilities and practical problems related to disease management and finances.15
Access the Practice framework for working with 15-25 year old cancer patients(PDF, 1.03MB).13 Review section 5, page 22.
Outline how the factors in AYA development may impact on their cancer journey.
Identify local resources available to support AYA and their families to assist with early diagnosis, and consider how these resources are made accessible to AYA.