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11

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017

Acquired mutations can happen because of:

††

Contact in the environment

– Ultraviolet

rays from the sun or tanning bed, common

carcinogens (cancer-causing substances)

found in things like cigarettes and alcohol, and

radiation.

††

Lifestyle choices

– For example, lack of

exercise and being overweight.

††

Viruses

– Some viruses damage the genetic

code in a way that makes infected cells more

likely to become cancerous.

o

For example, HPV (

h

uman

p

apilloma

v

irus) is a sexually

transmitted virus that is the leading

cause of cervical cancer. It has also

been linked to head and neck cancers

in young adults.

††

Time

– Every time a cell divides, it has to

make a copy of its original DNA. Sometimes

the copies aren’t perfect and they contain

genetic mutations that damage DNA. The

damaged DNA is not repaired like it normally

is and gets passed along every time the cells

divide. Over time, the accumulated mutations

may lead to cancer.

1

But I'm too young to have cancer!

What is cancer?

At 24 you are invincible. You are healthy

and young. Any ache or pain, is just

simply an ache or a pain. You blame

it on your job, your workouts, or your

posture. You never think cancer. Until

one day, you get a call from the doctor

saying you have cancer. Yes, that is the

last thing I expected to hear. But, what I

can say after that one life changing day

and having gone through everything, I

am invincible after all. Nothing can hurt

me."

– Alyssa

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor

Age at diagnosis: 24