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Teens, Young Adults Missing Out on Latest Cancer Advances
Date:1/25/2008

Treatment gap between pediatric and adult cancer care one reason why, study reports,,,,

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to getting cutting-edge treatments for cancer, teens and young adults might be missing out.

In a study of young oncology patients, researchers found that 38 percent of those under 15 participated in a clinical trial, while just 27 percent of those over 15 were enrolled in a clinical trial. With the overall cancer survival rate lower among teens and young adults than it is among younger children, access to clinical trials appears to be a contributing factor, the researchers noted. In many cases, a clinical trial simply wasn't available for the adolescents, according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

"We've known for several years that older adolescents and young adults don't have the same clinical trial rate as younger patients but didn't know all of the reasons why," explained study author Dr. Peter Shaw, director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

"This study showed that the number one cause they're not put into clinical trials was that there aren't clinical trials available for them. Another reason is that many are referred to adult oncologists who may not be as familiar with pediatric disease and its patterns," said Shaw. "And that translates into worse survival rates, because clinical trial enrollment is correlated with better survival when it comes to cancer."

The current study included data from 640 children, adolescents and young adults with cancer who were treated at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh between July 2001 and June 2006. Five hundred and one were under 15. Overall, 36 percent were treated in a clinical trial, according to the study.

In the older age group, 57 percent weren't enrolled in a clinical trial becaus
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