Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma
Each year, nearly 70,000 adolescents and young adults (AYA) are diagnosed with cancer; and lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer, accounts for nearly 1-in-5 cancer diagnoses among young people. In fact, every five minutes someone is diagnosed with lymphoma.
Statistically, adolescents and young adults (AYAs) ages 15 to 39 years are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than children under the age of 15. Although lymphoma is one of the most common cancers to develop in AYAs under the age of 25, other cancers such as leukemia, melanoma, testicular cancer (germ cell tumors), breast cancer, and thyroid cancer are also commonly diagnosed in AYAs.
Lymphoma occurs when cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, grow and multiply uncontrollably. Cancerous lymphocytes can travel to many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood, or other organs, and form a mass called a tumor.
The relative youth and maturity level of AYAs has a significant effect on their ability to manage their diagnosis and treatment. Factors such as the belief that “it cannot happen to me,” overall healthcare-related knowledge, unique concerns regarding body image and fertility issues, and relationship matters must all be considered when building a treatment plan for AYAs.
AYAs may dismiss early warning signs and potential symptoms of lymphoma and delay seeking medical attention, in part because many cancer symptoms are associated with normal body changes that are common at this age. However, delaying medical attention can impact the ability to obtain an accurate diagnosis. It is critical that AYAs seek sound medical care instead of depending on internet platforms or social media as a primary source of information about their symptoms. Once lymphoma is diagnosed, AYAs often have unique biological development issues to consider. Younger AYAs have bodies that are changing and growing rapidly, which is important.
Additional issues such as health insurance questions, potential financial hardships, and peer concerns must all be managed carefully. Potential challenges that AYAs may face include:
- Management of a diagnosis and treatment plan
- Identification of the most appropriate healthcare team who understands the unique needs of AYAs
- The evolution of relationships with family members and peers
- Concerns about fertility and body image
- The transition to and from school and work environments
- Health insurance and financial challenges
Educational Programs and Services
A longstanding priority for the Foundation is to educate patients, caregivers and health care providers about the unique needs of those individuals who receive a lymphoma diagnosis. This effort can be complicated for the AYA population, who may receive a delayed diagnosis and be unfamiliar with the health care system. To address these challenges, the Foundation’s toolkit can assist AYA lymphoma patients navigate their diagnosis, plan for treatment and transition to long-term survivorship. To request a free toolkit, contact the LRF Helpline at (800) 500-9976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LRF has, and will continue to, prioritize and contribute to the body of evidence on the treatment of AYA lymphoma patients with the Foundation’s correlative clinical/translational grant to study AYA lymphomas. The goal of the grant program is to fund adjunct studies to complement and synergize with ongoing lymphoma clinical trials within the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Cooperative Groups. Click here to learn more about LRF’s AYA Grant program.
Public Policy and Advocacy
Public policy has the potential to impact the health and treatment of AYA lymphoma patients as much as scientific discovery. Federal officials and policy makers enact laws, policies and regulations that directly impact the nation’s investment in research and a patient’s ability to access appropriate and affordable health care. LRF works in partnership with members of the United States Congress to ensure that elected officials understand the challenges faced by AYA patients and make their needs a national priority. Become an advocate and join the Foundation’s network of 5,000 grassroots volunteers who support federal legislation that seeks to create new systems and research funding streams to benefit AYAs who are diagnosed with cancer.
Together, We Can #EraseLymphoma
In an effort to better serve the Adolescent and Young Adult population, the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s (LRF) Erase Lymphoma program aims to assist young lymphoma patients in addressing the unique medical challenges, psychosocial needs and access issues they may encounter by providing expert materials and programs. With an increased focus of lymphoma, we can empower patients with the knowledge they need to beat this blood cancer and raise the funds needed to cure it.
This campaign is supported by