What does AYA mean?

I realize I use “AYA” often assuming people know what it means. After all, the nice little acronym saves 5 syllables — a lot in an elevator speech, which is most often when I have to use it.  I have been asked about AYA a lot lately, so I thought I would just dedicate an entire blog post to it.

AYA stands for Adolescents & Young Adults, ages 15-39, and a unique group within the cancer world. It’s also the group we serve as part of our Camp Koru Program. What makes this group so special that they get their own designated group acronym?

72,000 Adolescents & Young Adults are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Here are some more stats on AYAs & Cancer, some which is referenced by our friends at stupidcancer.org.

  • Cancer incidence in AYAs has increased in the last 30 years more than any other age group.
  • Mortality is higher in AYAs than any other age group with cancer.
  • Cancer has become the number one disease killer in young adults.
  • AYAs are the most underserved patient population by age.
  • AYAs get entirely different cancers than other age groups.
  • The reasons why young adults get cancer are entirely different than that of other age groups.

What makes AYAs Different:
•    Young adults have unique needs that other age groups do not such as fertility, relationships, dating, intimacy, sexuality, singlehood, parenting, insurance, financial assistance, career planning, education and age-appropriate peers support.
•    Social isolation is the number one issue faced by young adults with cancer. Fertility is a close 2nd.
•    Quality of life for these patients is as important as quality of care.

My brother was 19 when he died from Leukemia. He was on the lower end of the age range, but still dealing with the same issues as if he was going on 30. Fortunately, the medical and cancer community is taking notice of the cancer problem in the AYA age group. There is now a surge of active attention on, and funding for. AYAs in research, treatment, support, and survivorship services. Our Camp Koru program is one of the only adventure therapy programs for AYAs that accepts survivors under 20.

Now you know what AYA means and so much more!

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