Young Adult Cancer


An incomparable hardship

Jason's experience with cancer was like that of many other youths in the same situation. To be stricken with cancer at the end of adolescence and early adulthood is an incomparable hardship for several reasons. Some of these youths suffer from cancers which were usually diagnosed when they were children. While survival rates in children are good, they are not as encouraging for young adults since a few years can reduce tolerance to chemotherapy. Others suffer from so-called "adult" cancers, such as colon, lung, breast and stomach cancer.

The statistics speak for themselves: for reasons unknown, their prognosis is not as encouraging as for older adults with the same disease. Jason was stricken with stomach cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, the cancer had already spread and surgery was not possible. This is a rare phenomenon at age 17 and no specialist can claim to have a related case history.

As a result, there is much to be done to provide these young members of society with improved therapeutic options that are better suited to their needs. We must find the causes that lead to cancer at such an early age. Are they genetic, hereditary or environmental?

A lack of funding and available tests

Unfortunately, the necessary funding is scarce and too few diagnostic tests exist to determine how cancer proliferates in young adults. Jason’s cancer cells were subjected to rare tests for his type of cancer, making it possible to uncover certain characteristics and therefore give him a course of treatment that was more adapted to his situation and keep the cancer in check for a while, without, however, finding a cure. It is important to note that Jason’s father contracted a similar cancer only a few years before Jason became ill. Heredity was to some extent a factor which predisposed him to developing the same type of cancer, and no screening tests were available.

Jason waged a courageous battle against cancer. During this period, he faced the same obstacles many patients his age are confronted with: isolation, withdrawal from school, difficulty in finding a job or staying employed, and no source of independent financial resources. Despite significant parental support, this is a difficult period for young adult patients since their friends, who play such an important role in their lives at this age, do not know how to react to their illness or deal with their helplessness and vulnerability.

Girl sitting