The National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week (NYACAW) will be kicking off its 11th anniversary, on Monday, April 1st. Launched by Vital Options International – a not-for-profit cancer communications organization with a mission to facilitate a global cancer dialogue – the National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week aims to highlight issues surrounding cancer, in the 15 to 40 age group. In 1983, Vital Operations International became the first organization focused on aiding this specific age group, in dealing with the real issues of cancer. This year, it observes the 11th anniversary of National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week, in its 30th anniversary, as an organization. Due to their efforts, they have become leaders in the young adult focused cancer movement.
Through Critical Mass – an alliance of organizations that aims to increase the survival rates and improve quality of life for young adults with cancer – Vital Options International and the rest of the coalition aim to bridge the gap between pediatric and older adult care. Founded by the LIVESTRONG foundation, and originally called the “LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance”, the alliance includes universities and academic medical centers, cancer centers, community hospitals, professional societies, nonprofit/advocacy groups, and liaison members from government agencies, such as NCI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The adolescent and young adult age group faces numerous unique obstacles, in their journey through cancer. Many people in this age bracket have inadequate amounts of health care coverage, as well as having to juggle school, work, dating, and young families during their diagnoses and treatments. Side effects of treating cancer could also result in infertility, neurocognitive effects or secondary malignancies.
Combining the fact that this age group has the least amount of participation in clinical trials and the different biological characteristics in cancers that affect this age group, the importance of improving our knowledge of prevention, detection and treatments is clear. According to data from the NCI, not only is the biological implication of cancer very different – when compared to other age groups – the annual increase in cancer diagnoses is higher than any other demographic. With cancer being the third leading cause of death in people between the age of 20 and 39, it is vitally important to make sure awareness brings on increased prevention and early diagnosis in young adults, within our society.
Check out the National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week’s fact sheet for 2013, to learn more about the initiative and the reality of cancer for young adults. Also, take notice of The Group Room’s articles on NYACAW, as well as the National Cancer Institute’s links on adolescents and young adults with cancer. To learn more about cancer in general or to seek personal support, please see LIVESTRONG’s Get Help site; complete with education and interviews with survivors, as well as free and confidential support. With unrestricted access to one-on-one support, we find this to be an invaluable resource for anyone going through the tough effects of cancer, whether you, a friend or family member is affected by it.
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