Treating Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

Posted on Jan 12, 2017

Pediatric oncologist Peter Shaw, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute, is on a mission to strengthen adolescent and young adult cancer care at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Shaw, who joined the St. Petersburg, Florida, hospital in August, is an expert on the subject. He founded the adolescent and young adult oncology program at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, serves as a founding member of the Consortium of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Centers, and has published extensively on the subjects of clinical trial enrollment and standards of care for this age group.

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s, new oncology patients must be 21 or younger, an age limit partly dictated by state mandate, Shaw says, though exceptions are possible. He hopes to eventually raise that ceiling to 25.

Meanwhile, he is focused on bolstering fertility services for patients past puberty, encouraging referrals and information-sharing between Johns Hopkins All Children’s and the nearby Moffitt Cancer Center, and creating a social network for teens and 20-somethings through outings such as bowling nights that draw from both hospitals.

Moffitt and Johns Hopkins All Children’s already share an adolescent and young adult oncology program focused on patients with cancers of the bone, muscle and other connective tissues. Shaw is working with physicians at Moffitt to add young adults with leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumors, and those requiring stem cell transplants.

“This patient population is unique,” he says. “In the past, they’ve fallen through the cracks. If they’re treated in the pediatric world, they may be the oldest one on the floor. If they’re in the adult oncology world, the person next them might be 80. Raising our age a little bit and collaborating with Moffitt will resolve a lot of issues.”

Learn more about Johns Hopkins mission to strengthen adolescent and young adult cancer care.

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