The Cancer Survivor Program at the University of Maryland will be designed to:
Survivors of pediatric cancers of any age may enter the Cancer Survivor Program when they are off therapy for two years and are tumor-free. Survivors are given an individualized Treatment Summary to help them anticipate long-term or late effects of therapy based on their own chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgeries. Late effects are complications that occur or persist five years after the end of treatment, and extend for the life of the patient. The cure rate for childhood cancers is now close to 80%, so we expect that most patients will become long-term survivors. However, the disease and/or its treatment may put as many as two-thirds of survivors at risk for other complications that they need to know about.
The Cancer Survivor Program addresses the whole person - not just the medical issues - and covers all aspects of cancer survivorship in the daily life of the patient. Some examples of late effects include problems with growth or development, problems with vital organ function such as heart or kidney damage, hormonal issues such as infertility or hypothyroidism, and secondary cancers. We give specific information to each survivor about how often to have tests such as hearing evaluations, echocardiograms, pulmonary function tests and mammograms. We discuss options for fertility and provide referrals to other specialties..
Other issues that may be addressed include anxiety, pain, depression, fatigue, problems with mobility, problems with insurability and school problems. Many survivors report academic challenges, including having difficulty with memory, concentration or processing. We can take that information and communicate with the teachers, school board or even colleges to facilitate an ideal educational experience for our cancer survivors.
Another advantage of the program is that it empowers local providers in the community so they know what to look for and what to do when caring for these patients. We make sure every survivor of any age has appropriate downstream care. This may be with a primary care provider or oncologist at the University of Maryland, with a pediatrician, internist, family practitioner or nurse practitioner in the Baltimore community, or similar care in the larger community. If providers know what to look for as a result of childhood cancer therapy, we can help patients stay well and help providers in the community take care of them.
In addition, our medical center is ideally poised to offer this because we are an academic medical center that emphasizes clinical care, education and research.
For more information about pediatric oncology, visit the University of Maryland Children's Hospital web site or call 410.328.2808.