Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program to lead nationwide study of young-adult cancer survivors

Research involves seven Livestrong sites and 3,000 former patients; goal is to improve long-term health outcomes

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program directors Drs. Scott Baker and Karen Syrjala are set to lead a nationwide study that aims to improve long-term health outcomes for young-adult cancer survivors—those between the ages of 18 and 39.

Drs. Scott Baker and Karen Syrjala
Drs. Scott Baker and Karen Syrjala, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program

Under way this spring, the study involves the Livestrong Survivorship Center of Excellence Network, a collaborative research group of seven National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers, including the Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium.

The Livestrong Foundation awarded the group $1.2 million for the initial study start-up to learn more about its young-adult cancer survivors with four goals in mind:

  • Testing the effectiveness of providing a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan that includes recommendations for ongoing health monitoring, strategies for improving health and future cancer screenings
  • Providing evidence to support long-term follow-up recommendations Determining effective methods of communication with survivors
  • Testing treatments that could improve young survivors' health and well-being

"There's a compelling need for this work, as young adults fall into the gap between studies of childhood cancer patients and those in mid-to-late life, who more commonly have cancer," Baker said. "Young people with cancer are impacted at a very formative, critical time of life, and we must put more effort into learning how we can help them thrive in the years following treatment."

Collaborating sites include The Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; University of Colorado Cancer Center; and University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study will recruit 3,000 former patients from across the network of cancer centers. The survivors will be a year or more out from cancer treatment, and they will be followed for at least three years.

Young-adult survivors typically cite challenges such as physical limitations, infertility, fear of cancer recurrence, psychosocial impacts (such as how to date and maintain social networks) and discrimination in employment and work benefits.

To learn more about research and resources for young adults or to inquire about making an appointment with the SCCA Survivorship Clinic, call (206) 288-1024, email or visit the Survivorship Program website.

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