Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program

Finding out you have cancer is hard. For young people, a cancer diagnosis presents a unique set of challenges.

The care you receive should consider some important factors, including your education, career, and family plans—as well as your mental and physical health.

Our Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program specializes in addressing the individual needs of young people ages 13 to 31 as they navigate their cancer journey. This specialized program is a joint effort between University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Research shows better results for patients who participate in programs with expertise in treating both adult and children’s cancer. Our AYA Cancer Program combines the expertise of Iowa’s only comprehensive children’s hospital and its only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Services offered by our AYA Cancer Program

Coordinated Cancer Care 

Your dedicated nurse coordinator provides you with access to services and additional support based on your needs. Then teams of pediatric and adult cancer specialists—including oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and geneticists—work together to determine specific treatment options for you. 

Clinical Trials 

Clinical trials help advance medical research while providing the newest treatment options available. The AYA Cancer Program assigns patients to appropriate clinical trials, including enrolling adult patients on pediatric trials and vice versa. The program also develops new clinical trials specifically to help AYA patients.

Fertility and Reproductive Health 

Many cancer treatments can can affect your fertility and your ability to have children later in life. Your AYA cancer care team will discuss fertility options with you before treatment begins and assist in the preservation process and future family planning when needed. 

Supportive Care 

The AYA Cancer Program supports your mental well-being. 

A dedicated counselor provides support to you and your caregivers and can help you process feelings and emotions related to your cancer diagnosis. The counselor also will help you build coping skills, mindfulness techniques, and better sleep habits and can help you identify anxiety and depression. 

A Child and Family Life Specialist helps you with self-expression and coping skills and provides activities for patients who are in the hospital, including memory-making and legacy activities. The AYA Cancer Program also offers opportunities for you to connect with other AYA patients through social outings and meet-ups.

Pain Management and Palliative Care 

Pain and palliative care team members help to manage pain and other symptoms from cancer and your treatment and provide assistance to patients needing transition to hospice or palliative care. 

Survivorship Planning 

The AYA cancer care team helps you manage side effects and late effects of treatment and helps with the transition to receiving care from your primary care provider to ensure that you are as healthy as possible after treatment.