By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first annual national Teen Cancer Awareness Week kicks off on  Monday.   Two US senators representing this region were behind it.

At a press conference today at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”), the focus was on the unique needs of teen cancer patients.

“As of September 24th, I’m cancer free,” said Temple University student Alex Rotzal to applause.  He spoke about his cancer treatments at CHOP for Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Doctors at CHOP say cancer among adolescents is on the rise.

“Cancers that occur more commonly in teenagers and young children include lymphomas, which are cancers of the immune cells; germ cell tumors, like testicular cancer; and also sarcomas, which are cancers that occur in bone and connective tissue,” explained Dr. Frank Balis (top photo), interim division chief of the hospital’s cancer center.

US senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) co-sponsored the resolution which Congress passed last December, dedicating a week to raise awareness of teen cancer.

“Sometimes early detection can make all the difference in the world,” Toomey said today.

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