Each year, about 70,000 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) between the ages of 15 - 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., almost six times the number of cases diagnosed in children up to 14 years of age.
AYA living with cancer confront unique developmental challenges related to work, school, health insurance, relationships, sexuality and fertility, as well as emotional distress and depression. Lurie Children's and Lurie Cancer Center’s Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program provides programs and services to address these concerns and support the needs of young adults with cancer.
What We're Doing About It
Led by clinical psychologist Stacy Sanford, PhD, and oncologist, Jennifer Reichek, MD, the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program provides specialized services and resources for young people affected by cancer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The resources and services we offer are aligned with nationally established guidelines, or standards of care, to meet the complex needs of our patients.
The AYA Cancer Program brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines, offering access to the world-class resources of the Lurie Cancer Center, including supportive care, clinical services and cutting-edge clinical trials for patients with all types of cancer.
Specialized Services & Support for AYAs
PEERWise PeerWISE volunteers are former patients over 18 who can mentor teen patients, and sometimes even their parents, as they go through the treatment process. PeerWISE volunteers talk with patients and families about what it’s like to go through treatment, and about daily life after treatment.
Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Navigator
Jennifer Carrera, LCSW, specializes in advocating for our patients who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 – 30. A clinical oncology social worker, she provides counseling, education and guidance for AYA patients and their loved ones before, during and after treatment at both Lurie Cancer Center and Lurie Children’s Hospital. She connects them with local and national resources, and helps AYAs manage the transition of moving forward to focus on survivorship. Contact Jennifer Carrera, LCSW, at email@example.com.
AYA Program Coordinator
As the AYA Program Coordinator at Lurie Cancer Center and Lurie Children’s, Brynn Fowler, MPH, helps to facilitate our patient advisory boards, organizes educational and social events, and assists with AYA advocacy initiatives. In addition, Brynn serves as a liaison between AYA program leaders and the AYA population. Contact Brynn Fowler, MPH, at Brynn.Fowler@northwestern.edu.
Our fertility preservation specialists walk patients and providers through the process, explaining the options for each individual. They also work with the oncology teams to integrate fertility preservation into each treatment plan, and provides insurance and financial guidance to patients and their families.
Clinical trials (research studies) evaluate new drugs, treatments and interventions. They increase understanding and knowledge about the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Almost every cancer treatment that is saving lives today is the result of a clinical trial.
Our AYA patients have access to state-of-the art cancer care and innovative clinical trials offered by the Lurie Cancer Center, one of only 49 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute.
Palliative care is specialized medical care to control pain and other symptoms to improve quality of life. It is an important aspect of cancer care that can begin at any stage of illness and be provided together with treatment.
It’s important for young adult cancer survivors to have a personalized plan for screening and surveillance. The STAR program (Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility) at Lurie Children’s Hospital provides access to specialized survivorship clinics and services offering long-term follow-up care. The program provides young adults who were diagnosed at the age of 21 or younger, with state- of-the-art, comprehensive survivorship care. Please call 312.227.3227 to make an appointment in the STAR clinic.
Navigating the challenges of health insurance, cancer-related expenses and medical billing can be overwhelming. Lurie Children’s offers information and resources to help young adults make informed decisions:
Insurance Find more information about what plans we accept, contact one of our financial counselors trained to answer questions about your plan, and find answers to frequently asked questions about insurance. Learn More.
Billing and Financial Assistance Find information on financial assistance, how to pay your bill online, direct phone numbers for billing questions, and answers to frequently asked questions about billing. Learn More.
Lurie Cancer Center's Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Program
Visit the website of our program partners at Lurie Cancer Center to learn more about programs and services to address the concerns and support the needs of young adults with cancer.