The first week of April is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. Although about 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year, survival rates for this age group have not improved in almost 30 years. Young adults are often uninsured or underinsured, and normal cancer screenings are not usually recommended until later in life so young adults are less likely to discover cancer in its early stages. Clinical trials are necessary to improve the standard of care and survival rate, yet clinical trial participation among young adults with cancer is low. Young adults with cancer face difficulties specific to their age group, but often, they do not know where to turn for help. Awareness is the most important issue of the young adult cancer movement.
Many organizations work specifically to raise awareness of young adult cancer and to provide support for young adult cancer survivors and fighters. Stupid Cancer hosts a weekly webcast, “The Stupid Cancer Show: The Voice of Young Adults,” and sponsors the annual OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults. First Descents offers kayaking, surfing, and rock climbing retreats for young adult cancer survivors to challenge themselves physically and mentally and to connect with other young adult cancer survivors. The Huffington Post recently created a community blog for young adults impacted by cancer called “Generation Why?”. The blogs are inspiring, informative, and in many cases, funny. They touch on issues specific to young adults such as cancer’s impact on career and dating.
By raising awareness, young adults will be able to catch their cancer earlier, leading to a better prognosis. Young adults with cancer will be able to find the support they need. More young adults may participate in clinical trials, improving survival rates for future generations. Awareness is key.