Every year there are about 70,000 Americans between the ages of 15-39 who are diagnosed with cancer. These are the invisible cancer population.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the number of adolescents and young adults who are diagnosed with cancer is six times more than children who are aged 14 or younger. However, there hasn’t been much breakthrough in improvement in the survival rates for this particular age group – unlike pediatric and older adult cancers.
In half of the cases, providers don’t even discuss the option of fertility preservation with cancer patients of reproductive age. As a result, most of the times these adolescent and young adult survivors come out of treatment without the ability to have a child because the conversation never happened in the first place.
It has also been observed that this particular group are the least likely to be included in clinical trials; and neither are there any reporting requirements specific to this age group. Therefore, researchers don’t have the the tumor samples and data sets they need to make some headway on survival rates.
This is also the population which is more likely to lose health care coverage because of a life-altering situation – such as aging off their parents’ insurance or losing their job. To be clear, these aren’t children who decide against buying a coverage. These are Americans who fall prey to a life-threatening loop hole in the system; which was otherwise meant to provide safety nets for everybody.
A diagnosis of cancer for people between 15 and 39 comes with a lifetime of increased medical expenses. Also, the direct and indirect consequences of a cancer diagnosis and treatment are demoralizing and weakening for these people.