First Annual Society of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Conference Emphasizes Unique Needs of Underserved Patient Population

CHOC Children’s recently partnered with the Society of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) to host the first-ever national conference for healthcare professionals who are focused on improving care and outcomes for patients between the ages of 15-39.

“While survival rates for pediatric cancer have increased dramatically, survival rates for adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer have not improved in almost 30 years due to the limited research available,” said Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, who leads the hospital’s AYA program and who founded SAYAO . “By creating an AYA healthcare professional community, we can increase clinical trial participation, accelerate research and improve quality of life.”

While 70,000 adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year, only 2 percent of AYA patients are treated in clinical trials versus 60 percent of children under age 15.

During the SAYAO conference, experts, working closely with Dr. Sender, revealed two new innovative tools for AYA patients: a mobile app for physicians and patients that will help increase oncology clinical trial participation and an online video and eBook support guide. Speakers included Dr. Roni Zeiger, former chief health strategist at Google and founder/CEO of, the largest social community for patients and caregivers, and Ryan Panchadsaram, senior advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.  

“This event is yet another historic milestone for the young adult cancer movement,” said Matthew Zachary, Founder/CEO at Stupid Cancer, the nation’s dominant AYA cancer charity. “As a young adult survivor myself, It’s exciting to see such open collaboration and innovation between medical professionals, AYA advocates and industry experts in the same place at the same time.”

During the conference, Huffington Post reporter Emily Drake interviewed Dr. Sender about the future of the AYA cancer movement and his contributions to the field. Her three-part blog series can be viewed by clicking here: