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Leukemia

Approximately 43,000 men and women were diagnosed with leukemia in the United States in 2009.  The disease is unique in that it is common in both pediatric (<15) cancer patients and in older adult (>60) cancer patients.  Of those diagnosed with leukemia, approximately 2600, or six percent, were diagnosed as adolescents or young adults (AYAs).  Although there have been vast improvements in survival rates especially for pediatric leukemia, AYAs have not seen these same advancements. AYAs are often caught in the gap between pediatrics and adult cancers and different outcomes were seen in comparing treatments based on pediatric protocols versus adult protocols. Overall, adolescents treated on more aggressive pediatric protocols had improved overall and event-free survival.

Source: Advani A, Hunger S, Burnett A, Acute Leukemia in Adolescents and Young Adults. Semin Oncol. 2009; 36:213-226.

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AYA patients are less likely to enroll in clinical trials than children or adults due to inadequate health insurance, lack of referrals and many clinicians don’t know of AYA trials. AYA participation is crucial to finding effective therapies. Many comprehensive cancer centers, university med centers, and pediatric centers- support AYA trials.

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