‘Extra care’ for young cancer patients in Belgium.

Young cancer patient Credit: Shutterstock 1090306793

A NETWORK of six hospitals located across Belgium are offering an ‘extra layer of care’ to young adults that have been diagnosed with cancer

Belgium’s RIZIV insurance committee announced its endorsement from December 1 to collaborate with these hospitals. “Our aim is to offer high-quality, age-specific care to improve their quality of life during and after treatment,” stated the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Frank Vandenbroucke. 

In Belgium, these six hospitals experience the largest number of Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) diagnoses every year, these are: UZ Leuven, UZ Gent, UZA (Antwerp), CHU Liege Sart-Tilman, Institut Jules Bordet, and Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels. The program that will now begin in these care centres aims to establish a national care pathway to ultimately provide standardised AYA care. 

A start-up budget of 600,000 euros has been provided for 2023, and from 2024 1.2 million euros will be released annually for the agreements with the various hospitals. ​Each AYA team consists of a specialist doctor, a specialised nurse, a social worker, and a psychologist.

Specific attention will be given to this age group after the initial diagnosis, as well as during their ongoing treatment, particularly focusing on their wider support system.

“This special attention has a significant impact on AYA’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being, at a time in their lives when they are in full development in various domains, which makes psychosocial support absolutely necessary.” explained Kleo Dubois, project officer of the AYA project at UZ Leuven. 

Dubois added that expanding the team to collaborate with other hospitals allows ways to “continue to work on optimising AYA care, sharing this in the hospital and beyond,” this includes “better access to clinical trials” by bringing awareness and helping AYAs to make informed decisions to participate.

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Written by

Jennifer Popplewell

Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.