Almost certainly you think that cancer is something that strikes only adults.  You think that it’s a disease that seldom, if ever, takes the life of an adolescent or young adult.

Unfortunately, that is not true.  In fact, statistics are showing some very alarming trends.  For instance, did you know that adolescents and young adults today with cancer are no more likely to survive this disease than they did 30 years ago?   Survival rates have improved for almost every other kind of cancer in every other age group, but not for these young patients.  Did you also know that cancer rates are increasing for adolescents and young adults?   

Doctors and researchers don’t quite yet know why there hasn’t been more progress in treating cancer in young people.   Some argue that it’s because no one expects a young person to get cancer so doctors and patients wait too long before making a diagnosis and beginning treatment.  More argue that some cancers in this age group are probably somehow different and more aggressive.  Most agree, however, that not enough time and money is being spent on trying to understand these cancers and trying to find more effective treatments—and hopefully cures—for the cancers striking adolescents and young adults.

Fortunately, medicine has begun to recognize that the study of cancer in young people has been under funded.  Some efforts have concentrated on meeting the psychological and social needs of young patients with cancers, and the long-term needs of young people who have survived cancer.  But it’s time to do more get to the cause of the problem.  It’s time to understand how and why these cancers may be different.  Time to find ways to make these cancers routinely curable!


Selected AYA Cancer Clinical Research Papers Co-authored by Michael Isakoff, MD, Director of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center


Treatment pathway of bone sarcoma in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Reed DR, Hayashi M, Wagner L, Binitie O, Steppan DA, Brohl AS, Shinohara ET, Bridge JA, Loeb DM, Borinstein SC, Isakoff MS.

Cancer. 2017 Mar 21

Comparison of MAPIE versus MAP in patients with a poor response to preoperative chemotherapy for newly diagnosed high-grade osteosarcoma (EURAMOS-1): an open-label, international, randomised controlled trial.

Marina NM, Smeland S, Bielack SS, Bernstein M… Isakoff MS et al.

Lancet Oncol. 2016 Oct; 17(10):1396-1408.

Young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with a pediatric-inspired regimen do not need a bone marrow transplant in first remission.

Isakoff MS, Freyer DR, Bleyer A.

Blood. 2013 Jun 27;121(26):5253-5.

Feasibility and dose discovery analysis of zoledronic acid with concurrent chemotherapy in the treatment of newly diagnosed metastatic osteosarcoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group.

Goldsby RE, Fan TM, Villaluna D, Wagner LM, Isakoff MS, Meyer J, Randall RL, Lee S, Kim G, Bernstein M, Gorlick R, Krailo M, Marina N.

Eur J Cancer. 2013 Jul;49(10):2384-91

Poor survival for osteosarcoma of the pelvis: a report from the Children's Oncology Group.

Isakoff MS, Barkauskas DA, Ebb D, Morris C, Letson GD.

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2012 Jul.

 Phase 2 trial of clofarabine in combination with etoposide and cyclophosphamide in pediatric patients with refractory or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Hijiya N, Thomson B, Isakoff MS, Silverman LB, Steinherz PG, Borowitz MJ, Kadota R, Cooper T, Shen V, Dahl G, Thottassery JV, Jeha S, Maloney K, Paul JA, Barry E, Carroll WL, Gaynon PS.

Blood. 2011 Dec 1;118(23):6043-9



Web Resources for More Information on Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults.  Courtesy of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Alliance and Reid’s Ride.

Ulman Cancer Center 

This organization provides support for young adults looking for treatment options, as well as information on cancers in adolescents and young adults.  

Lance Armstrong Young Adult Alliance  

This is the home page of the Young Adult Alliance for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative  

Good source of information on sarcoma research, independent views on the subject, and funding for  sarcoma research.

Teen Info on Cancer  

Designed for teenagers seeking information on cancer options and treatments.

Sarcoma Foundation of America  

Extensive information about sarcomas, covering all age groups.

Washington Musculoskeletal Tumor Center  

Excellent source of technical and clinical information on surgical interventions in sarcoma treatment.

American Society of Clinical Oncology  

Comprehensive website covering many aspects of care, treatment, and survival of young adult cancers.

I’m Too Young for This Cancer Foundation  Also at  

Informative site on options for treating and surviving young adult cancers, with an emphasis on dealing with the social, psychological, and physical challenges these patients face.  Sponsors the OMG Summits for young adult cancer survivors and patients.

Cancercare Young Adult  

Provides information, resources and support for young adults with cancers.

CureSearch Adolescent and Young Adult Information  

A good site for international and national resources for adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Planet Cancer  

Good source for resources, blogs, support and information for adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Children’s Oncology Group  

Although it says “children”, this group has numerous resources for adolescents and young adults with cancer.  This group has teamed up with CureSearch, listed above.

This Stupid Cancer.  

Excellent resource for young adults battling and surviving cancer.

AngelFlight NE. 

Arranging free air transportation so children and adults may access life-saving medical care.