Cancer patients belonging to the adolescent and young adult (AYA) age group have unique and very specific needs, which require special attention from the caring staff. The difficulty in maintaining the personal and professional development at this age is both natural and normal. Adding to this, coping with a life-threatening disease turns this stage in life into a period with many dilemmas and challenges of quite a complex nature. AYA patients have to deal with issues above and beyond the disease itself, which create a very complex coping picture. On top of that, prognosis for this age group has not improved in recent years, unlike the situation in other age groups like children and adults. The literature on this subject is extensive and comprehensive. However, most of the papers on this subject are very specific and narrow in their approach, each dealing with a specific topic. In this article, we bring together many different papers which make a wide and comprehensive picture of the subject of AYAs coping with cancer, coupled with recommendations for the caring staff. In this review we focus on the various aspects of the disease and treatments in AYAs, based on the conceptual model of quality of life proposed by Ferrell and colleagues [Cancer Nurs 1992;15:153-160; Cancer Nurs 1992;15:247-253], including physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects. From the psychological standpoint, most of the papers discuss the negative aspects; however, in this article we try to include some articles from the positive psychology school of thought. From our findings it is apparent that there is an opportunity and need to further explore research in this regard. It is apparent that taking a unique approach to AYA cancer patients is needed in order to deal with the unique needs of this age group. This article aims at putting a framework around this issue, with actionable recommendations for the caring staff.

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