Increasing cancer survivorship
Children’s Cancer Research Fund is working every day to increase survivorship and develop new, life-saving research that can improve the health and well-being of childhood cancer survivors.
Thanks to new and developing research and therapies, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer can be expected to be long-term survivors. Childhood cancer survivors now number nearly 300,000 in the United States. In fact, for the first time ever, there now exists a large and rapidly growing population of individuals who have been cured of childhood cancer, and who have survived years, even decades, from the time they were treated.
Unfortunately, however, as a consequence of their disease and treatment these long-term survivors now face significant, largely uncharacterized health risks, which they must deal with for the remainder of their lives.
Thus, the population of childhood cancer survivors presents researchers with both an opportunity and an obligation:
- The opportunity to gain new knowledge about the long-term effects of cancer and therapy, knowledge that can be used to help design treatment protocols and intervention strategies that will increase survival and minimize harmful health effects
- The obligation to educate survivors about the potential impacts of cancer diagnosis and treatment on their health, and to provide follow-up care, for example, by creating and implementing programs for the prevention and early detection of late effects
Who is a childhood cancer survivor?
- Anyone who has survived childhood cancer. After five-years disease free, most are considered “cured” of cancer.
- Family members, friends and caregivers impacted by the survivorship experience are also survivors
What are Late Effects?
- Medical conditions that occur months to years after cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Can occur during treatment and persist long-term
- Can be new late-onset medical problems
Late effects include:
- Disturbance in growth and development
- Organ loss or dysfunction
- Second cancers
- Psychosocial problems
What Can You Do?
- Make a Survivorship Plan
- Understand YOUR risks for specific late effects. Risks are not the same for a 10 year old with Hodgkin’s lymphoma treated with radiation therapy vs a 60 year old with acute leukemia treated with bone marrow transplant
- Establish a regular medical care provider
- Know details of your cancer and its treatments
- Consider evaluation in a Long Term Follow Up Clinic for Cancer Survivors
- Follow guidelines for follow up tests and exams
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
- Eat a healthy diet and be physically active
- Wear sunscreen
- Participate in Clinical Trials
Advances in cancer treatment have occurred mainly because of clinical trials. Improvements in survivorship care can only occur with advanced research and clinical trials.
Learn more about the University of Minnesota’s Survivorship Clinic and ongoing research to increase health and well-being after childhood cancer.