Skip to Content

All-Encompassing Care

Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program helps patients address challenges

March 1, 2021

Cancers that occur early in people’s lives put a damper on their dreams and waylay their plans. The Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program guides them through this difficult time.

The program offers subspeciality care for cancers that commonly occur in people between the ages of 15 and 29, including testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, bone and soft tissue sarcoma, and many types of lymphoma and leukemia.

A partnership between Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Vanderbilt Department of Pediatrics, the program provides for the emotional and physical needs of patients in addition to treating their cancers. It connects them with fertility preservation resources, offers financial counseling for medical expenses and links them with psychologists who can help with the anxiety, depression and stress from a cancer diagnosis.

Scott Borinstein, MD, PhD, is the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program. Photo by Susan Urmy.

“Cancer treatment is difficult for people of all ages, but it is especially tough for teenagers and young adults. They are at a challenging time of their lives, learning how to live on their own, away from mom and dad, figuring out what they want to do when they grow up. They are experiencing romance and friendship, navigating their way toward adulthood. Cancer often stops this essential development, forcing them to delay school or employment, isolate from their significant others and classmates, and often they have to move back home. It is an especially vulnerable time for these special individuals, and they require an expert team that understands these challenges, and can relate to them at their level, in order to best support them throughout their journey,” said Scott Borinstein, MD, PhD, the Scott and Tracie Hamilton Professor of Cancer Survivorship, associate professor of Pediatrics and director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program.

The program has received support from Teen Cancer America and other donors. Founded by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the rock band The Who, Teen Cancer America is a nationally recognized organization dedicated to transforming the lives of teens and young adults with cancer by helping hospitals and health care professionals bridge the gap between pediatric and oncology care.

The REACH for Survivorship Program is one such initiative, but it serves patients of all ages. It is a comprehensive clinic for survivors who have faced any type of cancer and who have received cancer treatment from any health care provider. The clinic, which was established in 2009, was one of the first in the United States to offer a survivorship program for both pediatric and adult cancer patients.

REACH for Survivorship assists people who have concerns about physical, emotional or practical issues related to their cancer and its treatment. If a survivor simply wants to remain healthy, the clinic has services to help achieve that goal.

People seen in the clinic complete a comprehensive health history and receive a personalized Cancer Survivorship Care Plan that will serve as a roadmap for their future health and well-being.

“This clinic is really focused on the education of the patient, caregiver and primary care physician,” said Debra Friedman, MD, the E. Bronson Ingram Chair of Pediatric Oncology, who established the REACH for Survivorship Program. “Patients seen in our clinic will have a written document that summarizes all cancer therapy and offers recommendations for screening and a list of things to be concerned about if they should occur.”