Health Menu

Index | Subscribe | Blog

Health Footer Menu

Treating the Teen Cancer Patient

PHYSICAL CHANGES

The teen years are a time when adolescents develop their self-image, seek autonomy or independence from their parents, and deal with issues of emerging sexuality, Dr. Leonard Sender says. Keeping that in mind with young cancer patients, he explains, “We try to understand and not downplay the issues of self-esteem and body image. We make sure we are talking to the patients and not just their parents. No one likes to lose his or her hair, for instance. For a young girl who is 13, 14 or 15, we realize this can be quite catastrophic.”

EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL CONCERNS

“A teen’s peers are really important too, so we try to keep them involved. Peer support helps,” says Dr. Sender. “We have social workers and nurses that talk to the patients. We try to make sure we are listening to them. We’ve taken them out of their normal routine, their school and peer relationships, and they lose control.” Patients may also enlist support from a religious leader of their chosen faith if they would like. “We respect all religions and people’s faith and how they cope,” Dr. Sender says.

TEEN CANCER PATIENTS ARE UNIQUE

Social and peer acceptance; career and education considerations; and the desire for independence are among issues to be considered when helping the adolescent cancer patient. It’s important for everyone involved in the patient’s care to consider these factors to better understand how the teen will respond to therapy, the hospital and possibly being in a clinical trial, says Dr. Sender, who noted that fewer teens and young adults nationwide participate in pediatric clinical trials compared to younger children. To help better connect teen cancer patients with their school and peers, CHOC is participating in a research project with UC Irvine that will place a robot in an Orange County classroom — connected to a CHOC patient by a computer — so the patient can interact with classmates and have an improved sense of normalcy. Dr. Sender says researchers hope to learn whether the robot keeps the patient better engaged with peers at school.

FAST FACTS

  • Estimated number of cancer deaths that will occur this year in children from birth – 19: 1,960
  • Estimated number of new cancer cases that will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. in children ages birth-19: 15,780
  • Percentage of overall 5-year survival rate for childhood cancers: 80%

Meet Dr. Sender - CHOC Oncologist

Dr. Leonard Sender is the medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s and director of clinical operations and program development at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine Medical Center. Dr. Sender completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at UC Irvine Medical Center and had a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Sender serves as board chairman of the “Stupid Cancer” Foundation and is a founding member and chairman of SeventyK.org, an adolescent cancer advocacy organization.

DR. SENDER’S PHILOSOPHY OF CARE:
“I take a patient-centric approach and treat young patients as a person while understanding the context in which they get cancer. My goals are to cure the cancer and achieve a meaningful survivorship.”

EDUCATION
Medical school at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS
Pediatric hematology/oncology Pediatrics

Leonard Sender

Real Answers For Teens With Cancer

CHOC Children’s Straight Talk offers real answers for Adolescents and Young Adult (AYA) patients with tough questions. The only website of its kind in the United States, Straight Talk serves up information in a mobile-friendly, question and answer format.

Stupid Cancer Visits CHOC

The Stupid Cancer Road Trip, Kenny and John are on their way to the 2012 OMG! Cancer Summit at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. On their way they stop by CHOC Children’s and pay a special visit to Dr. Sender. Learn more about StupidCancer.org.

Preserving Fertility in Adolescent Cancer Patients

When treating children and teens with cancer at CHOC, physicians also have another health aspect in mind: patients’ future fertility.

Because so many adolescent cancer patients are surviving into adulthood, physicians, patients and their families have a major interest in preserving a patient’s fertility, as well as the long-term effects that treatment can have on a patient’s fertility in the future.

preserving-fertility-adolescent-cancer-patients

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

Chronic Inflammation and What it Means in a Child
Chronic inflammation can be manifest in many ways - fatigue, fever, rash, joint pain or swelling, sores in the mouth, chest pains and abdominal pain.


Growing Pains in Kids
Growing pains are real because many children experience musculoskeletal pain, but the most common cause for this type of pain are ligaments that are loose.


Kids and Surgery
To prepare your child for surgery parents should understand and work through their concerns, because if the parents are scared, the child will be scared.


Subscribe to KidsHealth

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram Snapchat LinkedIn YouTube RSS CHOC Blog

 

UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine