The Youth Project represents an innovative model of care based on the recognition of the complexity of the management of adolescent patients and the need to achieve a global care of the patient and his/her family through a dedicated multi-specialist team.
Adolescents are special patients with complex and unique needs. The disease appears at an incredibly delicate moment in their growth process: the patients are faced with the diagnosis and treatment of the tumor while at the same time they are called upon not to miss the achievement of fundamental stages of their personal and relational development; the needs of autonomy, of personal relationships, of planning one’s own future must not be suspended, at least completely, by the eruption of the disease in everyday life. Adolescents with cancer represent a subgroup of patients for whom there is a problem of access to excellent care and enrollment in clinical protocols, especially when compared to the optimization of care pathways successfully implemented in the world of pediatric oncology for patients under the age of 15 (thanks to the existence of efficient cooperative networks – for Italy the Italian Association of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology – AIEOP – http://www.aieop.org). For example, the 1995-2002 EUROCARE survival study reported the difference in healing between patients aged 15-24 and those under the age of 15: the cure rate for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia was around 85% for patients under 15 and 50% for those between 15 and 24 years; for osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, the difference was, respectively, 77% versus 60% and 66% versus 48%.