Part 2 of the AYA: Australia Series (To read Part 1 click here)
The Inaugural Australasian International Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Congress took place this past December in Sydney, Australia. The multi-disciplinary Congress was held by CanTeen, an Australian youth cancer charity and welcomed over 250 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America. I had the great pleasure of being an invited writer and speaker at this event. I spoke at the congress about the innovative ways we can address the needs of adolescents and young adults living with metastatic and/or advanced cancer. Here are six summary items I think you should know about the conference:
1. The theme of the Congress was Crossing Boundaries and Bringing it all Together. It reflected the importance and necessity of interdisciplinary teams, including those in the pediatric and adult medical fields, working together to advance the AYA cancer movement. Conference delegates represented interdisciplinary medicine and included oncologists, hematologists, nurses, psychosocial professionals, public health and non-profit staff. The Congress was a patients-included conference that had active participation from youth cancer patients and family members.
2. The international keynote speakers for the event were Dr. Brad Zebrack, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work; Dr. Brandon Hayes-Lattin, Associate Progessor of Medicine at the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Oregon Health and Science University; Sue Morgan, Teenage Cancer Trust Nurse Consultant; Dr. Dan Stark, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at Leeds University; and Dr. Norma D'Agostino, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.
3. Three key themes were focused on at the Congress: best practice and emerging medical treatments; psychological and emotional support; and survivorship.
4. Plenary sessions provided insight into AYA cancer around the world; the Australian model of care; psychosocial assessment and care of AYA patients; young people and decision-making; survivorship; and a Q & A with leading international and Australian speakers. The primary focus of the Q & A session was around international collaboration in the AYA oncology field and the role we have in supporting developing countries to improve their AYA cancer treatment and care.
5. In line with the Congress, CanTeen released a report on survivorship, highlighting the ongoing emotional, social and health challenges AYAs face. The report makes recommendations that include better cooperation and referrals between hospitals, primary care and community services. These are challenges we also face in North America. For more information about the report, please contact CanTeen at firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Concurrent sessions focused on topics pertinent to the health of AYAs: Oncofertility, palliative care, psychosocial support and nursing.
At the conclusion of the event, it was announced that an Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Global Accord has been formed between CanTeen, the Teenage Cancer Trust and Teen Cancer America to establish a new conference series, the "Global AYA Congress". The goal of this conference series is to provide an international educational forum for the AYA oncology field. This annual event will give healthcare professionals and researchers involved in AYA cancer care a platform to showcase their work and further the international AYA cancer movement. The event will be hosted on a rotational basis each year by one of the three organizations. The first in this series will be held next December in Edinburgh by Teenage Cancer Trust. For more information, please visit https://www.teenagecancertrust.org/about-us/what-we-do/professional-leadership/international-conference