Cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) is thankfully rare. However as a result, treatment is often decentralised, which may lead to a degree of variability in healthcare provision. In Flanders alone, there are over 1000 annual AYA cases of cancer spread across 56 different hospitals. Furthermore, there is no universal agreement on AYA age range, ultimately creating an opportunity for sub-optimal treatment. Addressing these clinical shortfalls, an update to a project to implement an AYA assessment template into clinical practice was presented recently at the 23rd BSMO annual meeting in 2021.
Winning the Pfizer award in 2018, this project designed a needs-assessment template, tailored for AYAs that could be used to guide discussion during multidisciplinary oncologic consultations (MOC) regarding patient management. Development began by identifying key criteria for the optimisation of AYA care by interviewing 21 specialists working within oncology from the hospitals of UZ Gent, AZ Jan Palfijn, AZ St. Lucas and AZ Maria Middelares. This criteria included the development of a fertility clinic referral pathway and better awareness of clinical trial enrolment. Specialists also wanted this tool to be time sensitive, optimising current communication tools, where possible. This template has subsequently be made available on CoZo, a popular electronic record system, ensuring continuity of care and communication across various specialties and multidisciplinary settings. To assess the impact of these interventions, 14 clinical indicators were designed using RedCap database software. This data will be made available to individual hospitals. Looking forward, this project will continue to refine these interventions, working with the Flemish League Against Cancer to ensure the wider implantation of this MOC package across more medical centres in the Flemish region of Belgium.
Belpame N et al., The development, implementation and evaluation of a multidisciplinary oncologic consultation for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer in Belgium. Belg J Med Oncol. 2021; 15(3): 134-45