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Teens battling cancer have unique challenges

While these cancers are still uncommon, the rate among teens has been steadily rising 2 percent a year for the last 25 years. Equally disturbing, survival rates have not improved.

The lack of progress has spawned new thinking by physicians and researchers, prompting the formation of a new medical specialty, called AYA, to care for adolescents and young adults. Treatment for these patients must combine specialized emotional as well as medical care, according to experts.

Researchers believe a number of conditions have contributed to problems treating young cancer patients. There is a poor understanding of the biology and causes of cancer in this population and few clinical trials. Diagnosis is often delayed in this population.

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