Cancer Treatments for Teenagers - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Cancer Treatments for Teenagers

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19-year-old Alec Kupelian spends up to five nights a week at the hospital receiving chemotherapy.

The college sophomore withdrew from school in May to start cancer treatments after doctors discovered a tumor in his pelvis.

"You're nauseous 80% of the time. It's nice to have the little things that make you feel better."

Kupelian says those "little things" have everything to do with where he's being treated.

UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica launched one of the country's first cancer programs designed specifically for young adults.

"What we need to do is really concentrate on this population...developing clinical trials and new therapeutics specifically for these patients."

Oncologist Noah Federman is part of a team of experts, including psychiatrists and social workers, who specialize in treating the needs of teens.   Patients can also consult fertility experts since some cancer treatments can interfere with reproduction.

The walls are decorated with colorful murals and a modern lounge gives patients a place to socialize.

"This becomes a home for them. That's very important to getting through this emotionally and mentally, which then helps them psychically."

Kupelian says the personalized program isn't just changing his life, it's saving it. "After this, I still get to go on (smiles)."

Kupelian hopes to return to college after finishing another eight months of treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in every 285 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20.

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