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Context for Understanding Psychosocial Outcomes and Behavior Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer

Brad Zebrack and Melissa Butler

Across all age groups, cancer affects relationships with family and friends; challenges one’s sense of independence; disrupts goals, aspirations, and achievements; alters one’s body image and integrity; and poses existential challenges about the world and one’s place in it. When diagnosed with cancer, adolescents and young adults (AYAs) in their 20s and 30s face unique challenges compared with younger children and older adults. Understanding how cancer-related challenges manifest needs and desires for psychological and social support services throughout a continuum of care may help clinicians improve cost-effective quality care and patient outcomes. This article provides a context for understanding the experiences of AYAs with cancer and highlights key domains of psychosocial need in this population.

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A Practice-Based Evaluation of Distress Screening Protocol Adherence and Medical Service Utilization

Brad Zebrack, Karen Kayser, Deborah Bybee, Lynne Padgett, Laura Sundstrom, Chad Jobin, and Julianne Oktay

Background: This study examined the extent to which cancer programs demonstrated adherence to their own prescribed screening protocol, and whether adherence to that protocol was associated with medical service utilization. The hypothesis is that higher rates of service utilization are associated with lower rates of adherence to screening protocols. Methods: Oncology social workers at Commission on Cancer–accredited cancer programs reviewed electronic health records (EHRs) in their respective cancer programs during a 2-month period in 2014. Rates of overall adherence to a prescribed distress screening protocol were calculated based on documentation in the EHR that screening adherence and an appropriate clinical response had occurred. We examined documentation of emergency department (ED) use and hospitalization within 2 months after the screening visit. Results: Review of 8,409 EHRs across 55 cancer centers indicated that the overall adherence rate to screening protocols was 62.7%. The highest rates of adherence were observed in Community Cancer Programs (76.3%) and the lowest rates were in NCI-designated Cancer Centers (43.3%). Rates of medical service utilization were significantly higher than expected when overall protocol adherence was lacking. After controlling for patient and institutional characteristics, risk ratios for ED use (0.82) and hospitalization (0.81) suggest that when overall protocol adherence was documented, 18% to 19% fewer patients used these medical services. Conclusions: The observed associations between a mandated psychosocial care protocol and medical service utilization suggest opportunities for operational efficiencies and costs savings. Further investigations of protocol integrity, as well as the clinical care models by which psychosocial care is delivered, are warranted.

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Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology, Version 2.2014

Peter F. Coccia, Alberto S. Pappo, Jessica Altman, Smita Bhatia, Scott C. Borinstein, Joseph Flynn, A. Lindsay Frazier, Suzanne George, Robert Goldsby, Robert Hayashi, Mary S. Huang, Rebecca H. Johnson, Lynda Kwon Beaupin, Michael P. Link, Kevin C. Oeffinger, Kathleen M. Orr, Damon Reed, Holly L. Spraker, Deborah A. Thomas, Margaret von Mehren, Daniel S. Wechsler, Kimberly F. Whelan, Brad Zebrack, Dorothy A. Shead, and Hema Sundar

The NCCN Guidelines Insights on Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology discuss the fertility and endocrine issues that are relevant to the management of AYA patients with cancer. Fertility preservation should be an essential part in the treatment of AYA patients with cancer. The NCCN Guidelines recommend discussion of fertility preservation and contraception before the start of treatment. Oophoropexy and embryo cryopreservation are the 2 established options for fertility preservation in women. Semen cryopreservation before the start of treatment is the most reliable and well-established method of preserving fertility in men. AYA women with cancer also have unique contraception needs, depending on the type of cancer, its treatment, and treatment-related complications. Management of cancer during pregnancy poses significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenges for both the patient and the physician. AYA women diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy require individualized treatment from a multidisciplinary team involving medical, surgical, radiation, and gynecologic oncologists; obstetricians; and perinatologists.