The Adolescence of Young Adult Oncology
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The clinical care of young adults with cancer, and related research, was a novel focus of oncology a decade ago, but 10 years of data on patients' needs and outcome disparities, well-reviewed in the articles of this special issue and its predecessor (June 2009), prove the merit of this subspecialty. The field, emerging from its childhood and entering adolescence, must continue to look to the future to solidify its worth. In this concluding article we examine important themes that must receive attention for the discipline to develop and flourish. We must overcome the challenges inherent in serving a population that is difficult to define, and which crosses traditional boundaries and disciplines. The field must strengthen its research in clinical trials and comparative outcomes, and must articulate the key competencies that distinguish a practitioner of young adult oncology (both to define clinical programs and educational curricula). Key opportunities are collaborations with leaders in oncofertility, developmental psychology, and transitional care, and with patient advocates. We must garner support from federal entities, as well as philanthropic agencies and accrediting bodies. With strategic effort, the field of young adult oncology will mature and grow wise.
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