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Teenagers and young adults (cancer)

The Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Service offers specialist care to people aged 16 – 24 who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Being diagnosed with cancer and facing treatment can make you feel scared and isolated. Some of the treatment you have had, or are having, may disrupt your routine and plans, which is where we can help. We have a large, dedicated team of professionals with a special interest in the care of young people who will support you, your friends and family throughout your treatment journey.

How we can help

When you are referred to the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons’ Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), you will come into contact with experts for your particular type of cancer, which can include:

  • doctors
  • consultants
  • nurses
  • Teenage Cancer Trust clinical nurse specialists
  • psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Teenage Cancer Trust youth support co-ordinators
  • teachers
  • CLIC Sargent social workers
  • community youth workers
  • TYA Service team and ward staff – often referred to as a multi-disciplinary team (MDT)

We also have weekly meetings with the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) and Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) teams. More importantly, we will all be working together to provide specialist expert treatment and support to every young person.

Our priority is to ensure that all young people diagnosed with cancer are offered specialist care combined with the psychological, emotional, social and practical needs you have as a young person. We see everyone as an individual, not just a diagnosis.

You will be referred to a consultant oncologist (cancer doctor) or haematologist (blood cancer doctor) who will be in charge of your treatment. They see patients both on the ward and in outpatient clinics. You will also be allocated a key worker, which will usually be one of the Teenage Cancer Trust clinical nurse specialists who will work alongside your treatment team and act as a point of contact whenever a patient has questions or concerns.

All team members involved in your care will be happy to answer any questions that you may have, or find the best possible person to do so. We have a wide range of information booklets available, but if you would like something in particular please ask.

Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons’ Unit

Video: support and facilities available at the TYA treatment centre

Staff working at for the Teenage and Young Adult service talk about the support and facilities available to patients at the centre.

Video transcript: support and facilities available at the TYA treatment centre

At the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Person's Unit, based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, our facilities and support ensure that young people are treated as young people first, and cancer patients second.

We are a specialist unit dedicated to looking after teenagers and young adults with cancer.

So the West Midlands Teenage and Young Adult Team support if you're diagnosed before your 25th birthday, from the age of 13 up to 24.

So if you're aged between 13 and 16 it may be you're treated at the Birmingham Children's Hospital, if you're age 16 to 18 we recommend that you're treated here at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

If you're aged 19 to 24 then you should be offered a choice of where you want to be treated, so hopefully the video will help you make that choice.

The role of the clinical nurse specialist is to look after young people and their families.

Our speciality is age, and we work alongside site-specific clinical nurse specialists to kind of enhance a young person's treatment.

Your site specific team is made up of specialists in your type of cancer and the Teenage and Young Adult Team works closely with them to give you the support you need.

It's very rare for a young person to get a cancer diagnosis and therefore they might not meet another young person who's going through that, if they were to be treated outside of either a designated or a principal treatment centre.

So it's about offering holistic care that's tailored to every young person and their families.

I support young people across the West Midlands. Sometimes that might be over the phone, sometimes it might be within the hospitals or on the Young Person's Unit itself.

As an organisation one of Young Lives Vs Cancer's main aims is to support young people and their families, and help them have the strength to find whatever it is that cancer throws at them.

When I meet a young person for the first time it's an opportunity for us to have a chat and get to know each other a bit better - is there any support that we can offer? What's important to them? When a young person is diagnosed with cancer you really can't change the big things but you can make a real difference to the little things.

It's really important when working with young people that you take the time to get to know them, what they like, what they dislike, make all of this a bit easier for them.

When you go through cancer, no one understands unless they've been through cancer. The nurses, they've watched, they've seen a lot of it so they understand a bit more than the people at home.

Because you have your friends at home, which obviously love you and you love them and stuff, but they just don't - they can try and understand - but they just don't understand just how much of your life it takes up and how different things are now.

But these people you meet they're on the same page and they know, if you're too tired to message back, and they understand that, you know, things are different now, your life's changed, so it's nice to have that connection with people.

It's just good to know that there are people who are going through the same thing as you.

On the Young Person's Unit it is a 12-bedded unit that consists of two four-bedded bays and also four single side rooms.

Bed spaces are equipped with a free TV, games console and free Wi-Fi across the unit.

We currently have a day unit facility which is off the unit. This is staffed by nurses who have specialist training in looking after young people with cancer and we hope that you'll be treated  with young people also going through cancer treatment.

We've got a kitchen, so that's got a fridge freezer, microwave, areas for you to store your snacks and your drinks.

The eden room is a bit like a cinema room really, it's got a plasma TV, comfy chairs, games consoles, DVDs, it's a space that you can go and relax in if you fancy a change of scenery.

There's music in our kitchen, so there's a jukebox in there, there's also musical instruments.

I think one of the most important things for young people spending time in hospital is to not be tied to their bed because then you do very much feel like a hospital patient.

Teenage Cancer Trust units definitely are standalone units, you walk in and they definitely have a different feel to them.

All of a sudden I see all these colourful walls and people actually like smiling at you.

Something inside me just said, like, “Yeah, you're gonna come here from now on”, and I just decided that I want to have my treatment  there.

YPU, it's purple, it's like it's colour, you look in the hospital and it's like it's black and white and then the only thing lit up is YPU.

It's not like a hospital ward, you get your own kitchen, you get TVs, these little things, but they're like home comforts so you do feel like a bit more at ease and it just feels more like a home rather than like a medical place.

The food is always such a central part of what we do because it does break down barriers, it does bring people together, it's not just young people, it's their families as well, so it's encouraging the peer support with parents, with siblings.

My role is to help support young people diagnosed with cancer to stay in education, training or employment.

So the study area is a fully equipped area where young people can receive lessons. I've been able to provide mentors for them, I'm there to reassure them that we can help them to stay in education, in fact we do use the Open University to do short free courses, we do look at careers, we look at their skill base, anything really in which to keep them engaged.

If you do decide to stay at your local hospital then you'll still receive our support, that might be over the phone, it might be on video calls or it could be via our Teenage Cancer Trust Clinical Liaison Nurse Specialist, and they'll be able to come out and meet you at the hospital or in your home.

If radiotherapy is part of your treatment plan, we have a specialist Paediatric Radiographer who will be able to support you through your treatment.

Being able to be a constant for them in the hospital as a non-clinical presence, I think that's really really important because most people associate coming to hospital with medical procedures, having your obs [observations] done, clinics so to have someone come up and just say, “How're you doing, do you want to chat?

“If you don't, that's fine, I'll come back another time.”

If you require specialist treatment you might need to be treated on a different ward. But our team can still support you, providing you with a mobile unit and visiting you regularly for a chat.

My name's Ryan. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma back in 2019 and I was fortunate enough to be treated on the YPU throughout that. Unfortunately I relapsed earlier this year so I had to have a stem cell transplant and because I needed the specialist treatment I couldn't actually stay on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit, but the the TYA team still supported me and visited me, which was a massive help.

Even if you choose to have treatment elsewhere, you can still be supported by a Teenage 

Cancer Trust Youth Support Co-ordinator and access all the peer support events that we offer.

The events and how to join are on our Facebook page. If you have any questions please speak to a member of staff by emailing

The Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons’ Unit is an eleven-bed ward. There are two four-bed bays and three side rooms, with shared lounge, kitchen and study rooms, plus the Eden Room (cinema), which provides the perfect space to relax, unwind and socialise.

Within the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons’ Unit there is a dedicated day care facility for patients whose treatment does not require an overnight stay. There is space for a visitor to sit with you whilst you have your treatment and you are welcome to use the social spaces on the ward and take part in any activities that are scheduled once your treatment is up and running.

There are lots of things for you to do. We have facilities for gaming, watching films, board games, and arts and crafts. More importantly there is free WiFi access across the unit, provided and managed by the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Our Teenage Cancer Trust youth support co-ordinator runs weekly activities, which include pizza nights, music lessons and exercise classes, as well as opportunities to join off-site activities.

We have the staff and equipment to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible:

  • Single-sex bays
  • Activities on and off the ward
  • Education and employment support
  • Complementary therapy
  • Health and welfare advice
  • “Look good, feel better” days
  • Games consoles
  • PCs

As part of the TYA Service, we provide:

  • therapeutic massage
  • active gaming sessions
  • support in employment and education
  • social groups and peer support
  • guitar tuition
  • financial support and advice
  • fertility and sexual health advice
  • advice on well-being, fitness and healthy lifestyles

We also liaise with local agencies and other specialist teams.

Last reviewed: 02 January 2024