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Improving survival outcomes for young people living with cancer

5 Apr, 2017

Improving survival outcomes for young people living with cancer

Every year 180-200 adolescents and young adults (AYA) in New Zealand are told they have cancer. Survival rates for New Zealand adolescents lag behind international comparisons by 7%. This means in the past 10 years, 49 more 15-19-year-old New Zealanders have died of cancer than we would expect. Thirty four of these deaths (69%) were Māori or Pacific youth, even though they account for less than 30% of cancer diagnoses in this age group.

Over the past 20 years, the improvements in both paediatric and adult cancer survival rates have not been mirrored in the adolescent population. Differences in biology, diagnostic delay, tolerance to therapy, location of treatment and discrepancies in treatment strategy all contribute to poor outcomes and young people either not receiving treatment early enough or not completing their treatment.

At CanTeen, we know that’s not acceptable! And we are not alone.

For the past three years, with the backing of the Ministry of Health, some of the country’s leading minds in Adolescent and Young Adult cancer have been working towards a better future for young cancer patients in New Zealand.

And CanTeen has been present from day one, providing an authoritative, clear voice of the unique needs of teenagers and young adults, ensuring that any changes to treatment guidelines reflect the real challenges young cancer patients have experienced.

What has been developed is a set of standards for the care of young people with cancer. These Standards of Care are based on strong evidence and best practice. They set out the level of service that young people with cancer should have access to. They will guide quality improvement initiatives locally and nationally. The standards of care will sit alongside the Ministry of Health’s 11 National Tumour Standards, to ensure that AYA patients with particular tumour types receive both best practice and age-appropriate care.

On 12 May 2017 these Standards will be launched to health providers and the general public in an event created with CanTeen and the AYA Cancer Network Aotearoa, the Ministry of Health funded organisation tasked with improving the survival rates of young people with cancer.

The programme will include the voice of, and entertainment by, young people, the presentation of the young person’s version of the standards of care, information around the implementation and a ministerial address by the Minister of Health, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman.

“I found a lump. The doctor told me it was a symptom of my depression and gave me antibiotics to treat it. It was cancer” Read Esther’s story here.

For more information on the new Standards of Care, contact us or visit AYA Cancer Network Aotearoa.

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