Gaps in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Education in Oncology Fellowship Training

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Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology


Purpose: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs, 15-39 years) with cancer experience disparities in care and outcomes compared with older/younger patients. AYAs receive care from medical and pediatric oncologists, however, little is known about the extent of training fellows receive. This needs assessment evaluating current AYA oncology (AYA-O) education in pediatric and medical oncology fellowship programs to identify knowledge gaps for curricular development. Methods: An anonymous, cross-sectional, web-based survey developed by pediatric and medical oncologists was sent to medical (n = 178) and pediatric (n = 119) hematology/oncology program directors (PDs) at 251 sites in the United States. PDs were asked to participate and distribute the survey to their fellows. Survey questions addressed current AYA curriculum, provider comfort, and priorities for future AYA educational content. Results: Participants from 69/251 programs responded (program response rate = 27%), including 51 PDs (32 pediatric, 19 medical oncology) and 58 fellows (33 pediatric, 25 medical oncology). Eighty-five percent of PDs (44/51) reported lacking formal AYA curricula. Of these, 80% (35/44) offer some topic-specific lectures, while 20% (9/44) provide little/no education for any topics. For nearly all topics, at least 45% of combined respondents reported little/no education. Respondents believe AYA topics are important for inclusion in future curricula. The most important topics for inclusion reported were oncofertility (82%), survivorship (78%), and communication (77%). Conclusions: There are large and actionable gaps in AYA-O education during fellowship training. Efforts are underway to develop AYA-O curriculum to provide both medical and pediatric oncology fellows with the knowledge and skills required to provide optimal AYA care.

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