The Royal Marsden

Q&A: Teenage and Young Adult Service

Emma Thistlethwayte, Lead Nurse in the Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service, explains how the team supports and cares for young people with cancer.
Emma Thistlethwayte, Lead Nurse in the Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service

Emma Thistlethwayte, Lead Nurse in the Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service

How does The Royal Marsden TYA service support young people with cancer?

We offer specialist, age appropriate care to cancer patients aged 16 to 24, as well as emotional, psychological, practical and social support via our virtual multidisciplinary team (MDT) clinic. The MDT clinic ensures patients are supported by a specialist team that includes advanced nurse practitioners, a youth support co-ordinator, Young Lives vs Cancer social workers, occupational therapists dietitians, psychologists and physiotherapists. The MDT can offer support around issues such as fertility, body image and transitioning to life with and after cancer. When we care for patients, the emphasis is on them being young people with unique identities, rather than someone with cancer.

What is available on the TYA ward that might not be available on an adult ward?

The TYA ward is designed to be an age-appropriate environment that also gives patients the opportunity to benefit from peer support. The Teenage Cancer Trust youth support co-ordinator on the ward supports young people on an individual basis, as well as engaging them in group activities, such as music and art therapy and Friday ‘mocktail’ nights.

How is a young person referred to the TYA service at The Royal Marsden?

Patients aged 16 to 18 must be treated at their Principal Treatment Centre, which, for those living in the South Thames region, will be The Royal Marsden. Patients aged 19 to 24 are offered a choice of either The Royal Marsden or a designated hospital where they will have access to a TYA clinical nurse specialist. For some young people, having an age-appropriate environment where they can mix with their peers is the most important thing, but for others it may be the distance they have to travel from their home. All teenage and young adult patients in the South Thames region, irrespective of where they choose to be treated, should be referred for discussion in our TYA MDT clinic, which provides oversight and guidance for their treatment pathway.