Explore the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

Overview

Adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with cancer face unique challenges and have specific needs. Historically, oncology care has been divided between pediatric and older adult patients, creating additional challenges for AYAs as they navigate their cancer care while also balancing mental health, financial wellbeing, educational and career development goals, fertility, and social connection.

The AYA program at Mass General Cancer Center was established to directly address the unique needs of our AYA population. We are developing clinical and psychosocial frameworks and creating social opportunities to improve the quality of life and outcomes for our patients.

Our Mission

Our mission is to empower AYAs throughout their cancer care by fostering a community of patients, caregivers, providers, and advocates. The AYA program was established to provide an integrated model of care to address the multifaceted concerns of our patients.

  • Our AYA patients are the foundation of this program.
  • Our AYA patients drive the program’s ongoing engagement in research and educational initiatives to identify best clinical care practices.
  • Our AYA patients are instrumental in guiding the development of our psychosocial supports and social engagement opportunities.

Through this collaborative and dynamic effort, the AYA program aims to eliminate disparities in cancer care and outcomes of AYAs impacted by cancer.

Our Multidisciplinary Care Model

Our clinical care program is designed to provide a multidisciplinary approach to the care our AYA patients receive. The team includes medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists with experience caring for AYA patients. Our team provides resources and supports for fertility and sexual health, emotional wellbeing, education, physical health and rehabilitation, nutrition, social support, and spirituality.

Support Services

AYA program graphic

The AYA program provides patients with access to many support services at Mass General, including but not limited to:

Meet the Team

Annah Abrams, MD

Annah Abrams, MD
Director, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program
Director, Pediatric Psychooncology
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

 

Giselle Perez, PhD

Giselle Perez, PhD
Associate Director, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program
Director, Adolescent and Young Adult Research
Director, Mind Body Program for Cancer Survivors
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School

 

Bonnie Hu

Bonnie Hu
Clinical Research Coordinator

 

 

Alisa Lapioli

Alisa Lapioli
Clinical Research Assistant/Program Manager

 

AYA Clinical Champions

Judianne Henderson, NP

Judianne Henderson, NP
Oncology Nurse Practitioner

 

 

Christina Kim, NP

Christina Kim, NP
Oncology Nurse Practitioner

 

 

Jackie Cardarelli-Matte

Jackie Cardarelli-Matte, LICSW
Sarcoma and Gynecological Social Worker

 

 

Vinayak Venkataraman, MD

Vinayak Venkataraman, MD
Clinical Fellow, Dana-Farber/Mass General Brigham Cancer Care

 

 

FAQs

Who are adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients?

AYA cancer patients are individuals between the ages of 15 and 39 who have received a cancer diagnosis.

What are the unique needs for AYA cancer patients?

AYAs receive a cancer diagnosis during a time of significant physical, emotional, and social development. Cancer and cancer treatment can disrupt critical developmental milestones leading to unique concerns. This may mean that AYA patients require support that is different from what is offered to patients at other life stages. Emotional and physical well-being, education, fertility planning, sexual health, and social engagement are some of the top concerns expressed by our AYA patients.

What services are available for AYA patients at Mass General?

We are committed to creating a space where patients feel comfortable discussing any of their concerns with their care team. As part of this effort, we have identified providers with AYA expertise throughout the Mass General Cancer Center. Patients can access supportive care resources including social work, psychology, psychiatry, sexual health and fertility, lifestyle medicine, integrative therapies, and parenting guidance.

Our dedicated AYA clinicians and program manager are available to connect you to these resources and answer any questions that you may have over the continuum of your care.

Connect with us at ayacancer@mgh.harvard.edu and 617-643-9434.

Where else can I find information on AYA cancer care?

There are several resources and organizations that address the core issues that many AYA patients experience. The following list highlights a few of the resources that are available.

 

Clinical Trials

Researchers at the Mass General Cancer Center are conducting a study to learn about the experiences of young adults with cancer and their partners. View study flyer (pdf) and information sheet (pdf).

 

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