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Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Treatment Program

Pediatric cancers are cancers that are most often seen in children, but can also be diagnosed in adolescents and adults. The most effective way to treat pediatric cancers is with pediatric cancer protocols designed by doctors and nurses who specialize in treating those cancers. Oncologists and hospitals that normally only treat adult patients may not have the background or treatments available that teens and young adults with pediatric cancers need.

The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC is one of the only pediatric cancer programs in the country with a dedicated program for teens and young adults. That means that because of our groundbreaking program, when a teen or young adult is diagnosed with a pediatric type of cancer, they get treatment from two types of oncology experts: one who specializes in their type of cancer and one who specializes in the needs of adolescents and young adults.

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Specialized Expertise for Adolescents and Young Adults

Three girls wearing dresses and face masks at the CHOC Oncology Ball
The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Treatment Program at CHOC is made up of a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized medical and surgical experts. Our AYA oncologists work with our cancer-specific treatment teams to help direct each patient’s treatment while also working directly with patients to help them navigate other important life issues that can be impacted by their treatment—like their ability to have children in the future, how to handle time away from school or work, relationships, body image and much more. We understand that teens and young adults have needs, rights and questions that are very different from our younger patients and work to provide a program and support unlike any other institution.

Along with our cancer treatment experts, we also team with social, emotional and spiritual support caregivers, as well as physical therapists, dietitians and alternative medicine specialists to ensure that our young adults and teens get the care and support they need. We treat all adolescent and young adult patients with cancers including, but not limited to:

Clinical Trials and Research

The experts at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC are dedicated to providing the very latest treatments, engaging in research and advancing treatments both now and in the future.

Because pediatric cancers are very different than adult cancers, they must be treated with specific pediatric cancer protocols. Our experience in exclusively treating these cancers makes us the experts in the evaluation and treatment of all forms of common childhood and adolescent cancers. We are dedicated to administering the very latest pediatric cancer treatment options. A majority of our protocols come from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national organization funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Our relationship with the COG makes us the only medical center in the southwestern United States offering COG Phase I clinical trials. We are also involved with the Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia & Lymphoma (TACL) consortium, which gives us access to the other groundbreaking Phase I clinical trial therapies.

Learn more about our ongoing research and the clinical trials available at the Cancer Institute.

AYA Patient and Family Resources

At CHOC, we stand by each patient’s side throughout treatment. From offering information on sensitive subjects to providing many of the comforts of home when patients are staying in the hospital, we work to help patients feel comfortable and empowered while undergoing treatment.

Straight Talk

Because teens and young adults often have sensitive questions about their treatments, we have created Straight Talk—an online collection of cancer-specific information aimed to answer questions on issues like fertility, sex, teen and young adults rights, and much more. Get the tough questions answered on our Straight Talk website.

AYA Surgery Guide

Preparing for a surgery or procedure can be stressful. While it may seem strange to have surgery at a “children’s hospital,” it is important to know that at CHOC, we’ve been treating teens and young adults since 1964 and understand the needs of our teen and young adult patients. We encourage all teen and young adult patients to read our AYA Surgery Guide that includes information and tips for patients who will be undergoing a surgical procedure. Read our AYA Surgery Guide.

Fifth Floor Teen Room

Located on same floor as our inpatient rooms, the teen room provides teens and young adults a place to read, play video games and watch movies, as well as computer access. It is a great place for patients to get away from their room to hang out with other patients their age.

Hope Room

A resource room available to patients and their families featuring a computer and a range of educational materials designed to help families better understand diagnoses and treatments.

Psychosocial Services

In addition to providing innovative medical treatment and follow-up care, the AYA team also addresses the psychosocial needs of teens and young adults. Life is stressful enough and when cancer is thrown into the mix, it’s great to know that support is close at hand. The AYA program provides ongoing psychosocial services to help patients address issues related to self-image, relationships, sexuality, fertility, mental health, education and employment throughout every phase of treatment. It is important that our patients know that we truly understand their feelings and needs and are here to help them every step of the way.

The Comforts of Home

At CHOC, we are committed to providing a truly healing environment for our patients and families that includes special amenities that help the hospital feel like home both on the fifth at the Cancer Institute and on the second floor. Learn more about:

The Richard C. and Virginia A. Hunsaker Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Child Life Program

Teens and young adults should be going to football games and dances, dating, spending time with friends or planning for their future. When cancer interrupts such an important time in life, the risk for depression is high and that can impact treatment.  The CHOC AYA child life program offers one of the only programs in the country specially geared toward teens and young adults.

  • Weekly AYA Events
    Teens and young adults have many opportunities to stay busy, hangout and pursue a variety of hobbies and interests including cooking classes and art classes, AYA movie nights, bowling, beach bonfires, holiday parties, fitness Fridays and much more.
  • Rock the Halls
    Rock the Halls is a program that motivates our AYA patients to stay active and win prizes. Participating patients track each lap they complete around the unit, and the patient that walks the most laps each day receives a gift card.
  • The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Oncology Patient Ball at CHOC
    An annual event that gives teen patients the opportunity to enjoy an important life event that they may have missed at their own schools because of cancer treatment.
  • Youth Advisory Board
    The AYA youth advisory board gives AYA members a leadership role to help guide the AYA program for future patients.
  • Weekend Retreats, Conferences and Trips

Other Resources for Teens, Young Adults and Their Families

From scholarships to camps to general health information, we have put together a comprehensive list of our favorite online resources for our patients, their friends and families. Learn more about the online sources we trust.

AYA Program at CHOC Gives Purpose

Vincent, a former CHOC oncology patient, found friendship and purpose in CHOC’s AYA program. AYA events such as the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Oncology Patient Ball at CHOC provide young adults like Vincent a much-needed community of peers who understand just what they’re going through, even through the most trying times.

See the video for a glimpse into the magic of the Oncology Patient Ball, and read Vincent’s story here.

AYA Special Events