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Changing the face of cancer care for young people

16 May, 2017

Changing the face of cancer care for young people

A new Standards of Care to improve the survival rates of young people with cancer in New Zealand has been announced in Auckland today.
In the last ten years, 49 more 15-19 year-old New Zealanders have died of cancer than we would be expect based on international survival statistics.

Survival rates for New Zealand adolescents and young adults lag behind international comparisons by 7%.

Cancer survivor and Paralympian Bryall McPherson says she hopes the new standards will help young people who will face cancer in the future.

“I know that there are improvements we need to make in cancer care for young people like me. It heartens me to know that these important steps are being taken to ensure we improve survival rates for young people with cancer,” says McPherson.

Heidi Watson, National Clinical Leader for New Zealand’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Network Aotearoa says health policy-makers and clinicians have recognised the particular needs of young people and government has responded with dedicated funding.

“These AYA cancer Standards of Care are the result of many passionate and dedicated professionals and support providers nationally and internationally who have contributed and worked alongside the network in the development of the standards. Our aim is to improve the survival and quality of life outcomes for young people” says Watson.
The Standards of Care describe the level of care that young people should expect from the time they are diagnosed and well beyond treatment. They cover all aspects of care and include hospital, primary care, NGO and community support.

A key innovation of these standards is the development of a self-review tool and implementation plan that encourages local providers to work together to build a common understanding of strengths and weaknesses across their services.

It helps providers to collectively agree the next steps that they need to take to work towards the standards and to improve the quality of care provided to young people with cancer in their region.

CanTeen Acting CEO, Claudine Young, says CanTeen have been heartened by the industry collaboration.

“It has been a priority the whole way that young people have had their voices heard in this process to ensure these new Standards address what cancer patients themselves have seen as barriers to their health care,” says Young.

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