Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Launches New Center To Expand Commitment To Addressing The Unique Needs Of Adolescents And Young Adults With Cancer


“Being diagnosed with cancer at any age is a big blow, but it’s especially difficult for someone just starting out in life who is forced to put their dreams to sleep,” said Lisa M. DeAngelis, MD, chief medical officer of MSK. “A staggering 90,000 new cases in this age group are expected this year alone in the United States. MSK is already at the forefront in this field, treating more than 5,000 of these young patients each year. We are uniquely positioned to make a difference because we treat and research cancers in adults and children. “

Why don’t young people benefit so much from research?

The survival rate of children with cancer has improved dramatically over the past three decades; but for teens and young adults, there hasn’t been as much progress. This vulnerable population faces a host of unique challenges, including delayed diagnoses and under-representation in clinical trials, which could lead to worse outcomes. When a young person is diagnosed with cancer, they can feel lost – too old for pediatrics but decades younger than most cancer patients. Teens and young adults often don’t have the right kind of support – beyond their families – to help them overcome the challenge of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

As colorectal and gastrointestinal cancer is on the rise in people under 50, MSK has created the world’s first such clinic dedicated solely to the specific needs of patients under 50. dedicated to the specific needs of this age group. MSK experts are also leading the charge on personalizing breast cancer treatments for young women in addition to helping them manage their physical and emotional needs.

“Supporting these patients so that they not only survive cancer, but also live a life beyond, is why MSK created its program for adolescents and young adults,” said Andrew Kung, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. “Researchers from across the institution came together to identify best practices, clinical trial opportunities and support services to best meet the needs of this unique population. With the generous support of Lisa and Scott Stuart, we are able to dramatically expand these efforts and create a comprehensive clinical and research center that will transform the experience, care and outcomes for this often underserved group.

Personal motivation

This center is made possible by the transformative generosity of Scott Stuart, Chairman of the Boards and Trustees of MSK, and his wife, Lisa. The Stuart family experienced what a cancer diagnosis means to a teenager – and her family – when their daughter underwent grueling but successful treatment at MSK for non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being diagnosed at the age of 12 years. Almost 20 years later, she fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, graduating from Harvard Medical School, and is now pursuing a career in oncology.

“These patients have not benefited as much from recent advances as those who are younger or older than them. We need to understand why and do better. This is the mission of the new Lisa and Scott Stuart Center for Cancers in Adolescents and Young Adults, ”said Mr. Stuart. “We know firsthand that the experts at MSK are committed to driving change and improving the prospects of adolescents and young adults, not only at MSK, but nationally and internationally. “

The Stuart Center will be led by William Tap, MD, chief of sarcoma medical oncology, and Julia Glade Bender, MD, vice president of pediatric clinical research. Services offered, tailored to this specific population, will include expanded access to clinical trials for adolescents and young adults; family planning and fertility specialists; personalized medicine; and the use of apps and social media.

Expand clinical trials

Adolescents and young adults have historically been under-represented in clinical trials. While clinical trials for “adult” cancers require patients to be 18 years of age or older, trials for “pediatric” cancers often stop at 18 or 21. Patients who are neither children nor older adults may find themselves stuck in between. The Stuart Center will not only focus on developing more trials for adolescents and young adults, but is committed to making it easier for these patients to learn and enroll in these trials, whether their treating physicians occupies children or adults.

Family planning

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can affect fertility in young women and men. Adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer face many obstacles, but experts from MSK’s Cancer and Fertility Program will work with patients at the Stuart Center to create a personal plan that takes into account their medical needs. and financial and helps them find the right fertility. service provider, allowing these patients to focus on a future beyond their diagnoses.

Personalized medicine

As pioneers in precision medicine, the experts at MSK know that when it comes to tailoring cancer treatment, biology matters more than your birthday. The best treatments target the exact molecular aspects of a tumor, regardless of the patient’s age. In some cases, adults should be treated with pediatric regimens and vice versa. The Stuart Center will ensure that all patients benefit from the combined expertise of doctors and researchers at MSK who will determine the best treatment for each patient.

Exploit technology

In order to reach this generation of patients, the Stuart Center plans to harness technology in new ways – teaching, treating and supporting patients. The program will be one of the first to conduct digital clinical trials for adolescents and young adults. Patients will work with a team of specialists to create a plan beyond medical treatment to care for the whole person, with counseling, nutrition, exercise and family planning through the use of apps, social media, etc. Additionally, the Lounge at MSK app offers individuals the ability to connect with other young adults in treatment and beyond, ask questions of their peers and MSK clinicians, find resources and events on a safe and secure social media platform.

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