Rapid diagnosis, timely initiation of optimal treatment and good supportive care should be the gold standard for all patients who develop cancer, irrespective of age and where they live. This article reviews the evidence that teenagers/adolescents and young adults may be disadvantaged with regard to access to care. Delays in diagnosis and the reasons for them (patient and professional), low enrolment into clinical trials, suboptimal treatment strategies and place of care are addressed. We must access the voice of the young, address their needs, and involve them more in decisions concerning their own health. Progress is being made slowly in several countries and international collaboration linking patients, health care professionals, governmental and non-governmental agencies is essential. Such international collaboration and focus, with specific research goals are suggested in order to make variation in access to optimal care become a thing of the past.
Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.