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News Releases

For Immediate Release

New Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Oncology Program Addresses Unique Needs of Teens and Young Adults with Cancer

Oncologists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have established an unparalleled program specifically designed for the treatment of teens and young adults with cancer in order to provide comprehensive care to this often overlooked group.

Children's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program provides specialized oncology and support services to cancer patients ranging in age from 15 - 21. Published scientific research shows that adolescents and young adults who receive care from pediatric oncologists have better survival rates than when they are treated by adult oncologists, especially those who have types of cancers more common in children (such as leukemia).

The program, under the direction of oncologist Peter Shaw, MD, combines the latest and most effective treatment options with a comprehensive approach to care that addresses the physical, psychological and emotional needs of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer. For instance, patients are able to consult with fertility specialists about sperm banking and other possibilities.

"Patients in this age group are in a unique situation because they need the specialized care a pediatric oncologist offers but they may not feel comfortable in a pediatric setting," said Dr. Shaw, an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Most importantly, the AYA Program gives them the best chance at survival, but it also addresses their unique psychosocial needs and gives them an improved quality of life."

Patients in Children's AYA Program are treated by pediatric oncologists in collaboration with adult oncologists to provide the most complete care possible. Patients diagnosed with common pediatric malignancies have access to the latest national cancer trials under the Children's Oncology Group (of which Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is a member), while patients diagnosed with common adult malignancies have access to breakthrough treatments available through the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Medical and support services offered through the AYA program include:

  • Fertility Preservation - In collaboration with Magee-Womens Hospital, Children's is conducting fertility studies on young adult cancer patients. Fertility specialists can help facilitate sperm banking and consult on female fertility issues.
  • Psychosocial Services - Psychiatry and psychology support and therapy is available, including weekly "teen chat" support groups for inpatients and outpatients. Coping skills, therapy compliance and life skills training for financial, workplace and relationship issues are emphasized.
  • AYA Life Specialists - A teen lounge, chaperoned outings and activities designed for teens make their stay more enjoyable, including age-appropriate movies, music, video games and books.
  • Look Good.Feel Better Program - This hospital-based, public service program was created by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation and its collaborators to help teens, aged 13-17, deal with the appearance, health and social effects of cancer treatment.

Learn more about Children's:

Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program

Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation

Pediatric Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 15, 2008
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Last Update
February 15, 2008