Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Program

Each year, about 89,500 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) between the ages of 15 - 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., almost six times the number of cases diagnosed in children up to 14 years of age.

Young adults living with cancer confront unique challenges related to work, school, health insurance, relationships, sexuality and fertility, as well as emotional distress and depression. Lurie Cancer Center’s Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Program provides programs and services to address these concerns and support the needs of young adults with cancer.

What We're Doing About It

Led by clinical psychologist Stacy Sanford, PhD, and oncologist, Jennifer Reichek, MD, the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program provides specialized services and resources for young people affected by cancer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The resources and services we offer are aligned with nationally established guidelines, or standards of care, to meet the complex needs of our patients.

The AYA Cancer Program brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines, offering access to the world-class resources of the Lurie Cancer Center, including supportive care, clinical services and cutting-edge clinical trials for patients with all types of cancer.

Contact us at Sign up for our newsletter with updated event and resource information or follow us on Instagram and Facebook @lurieaya. See also our resource guide for adolescents and young adults

Specialized Services & Support for AYAs

Jennifer Carrera

Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Navigator

Jennifer Carrera, LCSW, specializes in advocating for our patients who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 – 30. A clinical oncology social worker, she provides counseling, education and guidance for AYA patients and their loved ones before, during and after treatment at both Lurie Cancer Center and Lurie Children’s Hospital. She connects them with local and national resources, and helps AYAs manage the transition of moving forward to focus on survivorship.

Contact Jennifer Carrera, LCSW, at

Fertility Preservation

Many cancer treatments affect fertility. The best time to talk about fertility preservation is before treatment begins.

Kristin Smith, our Patient Navigator for Fertility Preservation, walks patients and providers through the process, explaining the options for each individual. Kristin also works with the oncology teams to integrate fertility preservation into each treatment plan, and provides insurance and financial guidance to patients and their families.

Contact Kristin Smith at or 312-503-3378 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

AYA Program Coordinator

As the AYA Program Coordinator at Lurie Cancer Center and Lurie Children’s, Brynn Fowler, MPH, helps to facilitate our patient advisory boards, organizes educational and social events, and assists with AYA advocacy initiatives. In addition, Brynn serves as a liaison between AYA program leaders and the AYA population.

Contact Brynn Fowler, MPH at

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials (research studies) evaluate new drugs, treatments and interventions. They increase understanding and knowledge about the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Almost every cancer treatment that is saving lives today is the result of a clinical trial.

Our AYA patients have access to state-of-the art cancer care and innovative clinical trials offered by the Lurie Cancer Center, one of only 52 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute.

Contact or call 312-695-1102 to learn more.

View a list of clinical trials offered at the Lurie Cancer Center, and talk with your care team to decide if a clinical trial is right for you.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized medical care to control pain and other symptoms to improve quality of life. It is an important aspect of cancer care that can begin at any stage of illness and be provided together with treatment.

Palliative medicine specialist, Melanie Smith, MD, works with young adults, their loved ones, and their care team to ensure treatment plans are consistent with each individual’s goals and values.

Contact the Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care program at 312-926-0001 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Surveillance & Survivorship Care

It’s important for young adult cancer survivors to have a personalized plan for screening and surveillance. The Cancer Survivorship Institute at Lurie Cancer Center provides access to specialized survivorship clinics and services offering long-term follow-up care. Call 312.695.0990 to learn more or schedule an appointment.