Adolescents and young adults (AYA) are the most underrepresented age group in cancer clinical trials. Low clinical trial participation parallels the lower survival improvements in AYA cancer over the last 50 years. This has led to a national call to action and the recognition of AYA as a “vulnerable population” by the National Cancer Institute. Because clinical trial enrollment is associated with improved outcomes, providing adolescents and young adult's with education and screening for potential eligibility for a clinical trial is a top priority of our AYA cancer program.
Clinical trials provide cancer patients with access to novel drug therapies as well as well established therapies that may be offered in new ways to improve how well the medications work or reduce side effects of therapy. Clinical trials include many areas of investigation aimed to improve cancer care, such as:
- Drug treatment trials that focus on medications that target the cancer process itself (therapeutic trials)
- Trials that focus on improving quality of life or reducing symptoms or side effects of therapy (supportive care trials)
- Trials that look at the way in which patients access or receive cancer care and factors that influence receipt of care like systems issues and financial challenges and geographic distance (cancer care delivery research)
- Trials that consist of databases that collect information about the types of individuals certain cancers effect and outcomes of their treatment (cancer registries).
What each clinical trial has to offer to patients differs. However, there are four general benefits: you'll have access to the most current cancer care, you will be treated by experts, the results of your treatment are carefully tracked, and you may also help other patients with cancer.
As an AYA, you may be eligible for a pediatric or adult clinical trial or both. In addition, there are some clinical trials that are designed only for AYA. Not every cancer diagnosis has an open clinical trial available. To find out more about clinical trials and if you may be eligible, contact our AYA Nurse Navigator at 210-743-2326 or reach our team by email at AYAcancer@uthscsa.edu.