Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute oncologist Brandon Hayes-Lattin, M.D., has been awarded one of just two national AFLAC Young Investigator Awards in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. The honor includes a monetary award of $60,000 to support two years of dedicated training in adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology.
AFLAC/CureSearch established the award to nurture physician skills in meeting the unique needs of cancer patients aged 15 to 40 and to promote the developing AYA discipline, which is focused on the medical and psychosocial issues facing people diagnosed with cancer during this transition-filled period of life.
"In forging a desperately needed trail for young adults with cancer to follow in the future, Dr. Hayes-Lattin is a pioneer in the tradition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The trail differs in one way worth noting from the one undertaken 200 years ago: This one starts in the Pacific Northwest and will wind its way to the heartland,” said Archie Bleyer, M.D., AFLAC/CureSearch director, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Research, St. Charles Medical Center, Bend, Ore.
Hayes-Lattin, a seven-year cancer survivor himself, is medical director of the OHSU Cancer Institute AYA oncology program and an assistant professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in his early 20s.
“My passion is improving care for young adults with cancer,” Hayes-Lattin said. He will use the award to hone his skills as leader of the OHSU Cancer Institute AYA oncology program and to develop a formal curriculum for training in AYA oncology. “The need is great and the problem not well understood.”
Cancer is the leading disease killer among those aged 20 to 39. Approximately 65,000 young adults in their 20s and 30s are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults face a spectrum of cancers unique to their age group, and, in contrast to younger and older groups, the survival rates for patients aged 25 to 35 have not increased since 1975.
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Just this year, Hayes-Lattin helped establish the AYA oncology program in the OHSU Cancer Institute. The purpose of the new program is to create more effective ways of diagnosing, treating, following, and caring for cancer patients aged 15 to 40 and to share this knowledge with other oncologists.
Young adults with cancer have unique and often unmet needs, ranging from accessing quality cancer treatment, to addressing fertility concerns, to managing complex psychosocial situations with caregivers, parents, peers and children as well as at school and work.
“Our goal is to bolster our contributions to national research and advocacy efforts in AYA oncology and to create a clinical program that will serve the patients of the OHSU Cancer Institute,” Hayes-Lattin said.
Hayes-Lattin serves on the organizing committee of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance and is the first adult medical oncologist to be appointed co-chair of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) AYA clinical trials subcommittee. He also recently served as a co-chair of the National Cancer Institute’s AYA Oncology Progress Review Group.
Hayes-Lattin recently was interviewed about AYA oncology by The Group Room® radio show, a weekly syndicated cancer talk show that is also simulcast on the Web and XM Satellite. Visit http://vitaloptions.org/index_archive530.html to listen to the interview.
The OHSU Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center between Sacramento and Seattle. It comprises some 200 clinical researchers and basic scientists who work together to translate scientific understanding into longer and better lives for Oregon’s cancer patients. Visit ohsucancer.com for more information about the OHSU Cancer Institute.