Nearly all adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with cancer who use the services of a population-specific clinic would recommend it to other AYAs with cancer, researchers reported during a session at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023. They said that more than 90,000 AYAs aged 15–39 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States, a critical life stage in which cancer can deeply affect individuals’ social, developmental, educational, professional, and financial growth, making services like specialized clinics critical to an AYA patient population.

An interprofessional team that included ONS members Brandy Boeger, RN, MSN, CPNP-PC, CPNP-AC, and Angela Yarbrough, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, initiated a comprehensive AYA Champions program and outpatient clinic that specifically address the needs of AYA patients with cancer. The program engages 45 advanced practice providers spanning specialties that support AYA patients’ needs. The clinic, which includes three APRNs, provides routine fertility counseling, sexual health counseling, genetic surveillance and counseling, vocational counseling, school assistance, mental health care, and late effects monitoring.

After analyzing the program’s use since 2018, the researchers found that referrals to the clinic increased 597%, from 164 in 2018 to 1,144 in 2022. In total, 98% of patients rated their experience as excellent or good, and 98% also said that they would recommend the clinic to other AYAs.

“A diagnosis during this life stage can delay or forgo the attainment of milestones, including autonomy, moving away, attending college, securing financial independence, and starting or growing a family,” the researchers said. “The unique needs of these patients are often underassessed and underaddressed in both the adult and pediatric settings, including genetic cancer predisposition, oncofertility, sexual health, psychosocial health, and late effects. AYA-focused providers and clinics are needed to address the unique medical and psychosocial needs of AYA patients during and after cancer treatment.”

Learn how you can support AYA patients with cancer in the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 9.