Cancer survivorship begins the moment a child or adolescent is diagnosed with cancer. Once diagnosed, the Children’s Blood & Cancer Center (CBCC) staff will support patients as they navigate life as cancer survivors. Patients also learn the skills needed to maintain good health and lead happy, fulfilling lives.
The CBCC survivorship team supports patients so they can become well-adjusted, highly functioning members of society after their cancer experience. The radiation, chemotherapy and surgery used to successfully treat childhood cancers may lead to what are called “late effects,” sometimes many years after treatments end. Survivors of childhood cancer require lifelong follow-up care for the screening, prevention and treatment of common late effects after cancer therapy.
Phases of Cancer Survivorship
Patients move through three phases of cancer survivorship:
- Diagnosis, including active cancer treatment
- The transition phase, which begins when active cancer treatment ends and lasts for two years. During transition, patients are closely monitored in the survivorship clinic.
- Survivorship care of late effects
How We Support Survivorship
The survivorship clinic exists to improve the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors by addressing medical and psychosocial issues through multidisciplinary care.
Once active cancer treatment ends at the CBCC, a patient is introduced to the survivorship team. Along with the patient’s primary pediatric oncologist, the survivorship team monitors the patient closely during the transition phase over the next two years.
Generally, once transition ends, patients will be seen in the survivorship clinic until they reach age 18 or graduate from high school or college, although some patients may be transferred later. Survivorship care then transfers to Seton’s ACCESS AYA Program, which follows patients from 18 through 39 years of age.
The survivorship team provides the following services upon a patient’s first visit to the survivorship clinic:
- Reviews patient’s past pediatric cancer treatment, conducts a thorough screening and health evaluation, and discusses current problems or concerns.
- Enrolls the patient in the Passport for Care® Survivorship Care Plan to create a permanent medical record for the patient to present to future healthcare professionals. This medical record includes all medical information related to diagnosis, any potential long-term problems, and recommendations for patients and their primary care providers.
- After the patient’s first visit, the survivorship team recommends a follow-up schedule based on Children’s Oncology Group guidelines. The team discusses the patient’s progress and monitors for late effects. Other services may be provided as needed, including a visit with a dietitian, lab procedures, radiological imaging or other tests.
The survivorship team helps to empower young survivors to take charge of their health, so they can enjoy a higher quality of life. We do this by educating cancer survivors about their individual cancer treatments and teaching them how to maintain good health and manage late effects that may arise after cancer treatments.