Caring for survivors of childhood cancer: it takes a village

Ailin Song, Jonathan D Fish
Current Opinion in Pediatrics 2018 August 16

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Over 80% of children diagnosed with cancer are now cured. The burgeoning population of survivors of childhood cancer experiences high rates of morbidity and mortality due to 'late-effects' of treatment. These can be defined as any consequence of treatment that persists beyond or develops after the completion of cancer therapy. Awareness of late-effects is critically important for pediatricians and adult providers alike, as late-effects impact children in proximity to cancer treatment, as well as adults many decades removed. This review presents the importance of lifelong follow-up care for survivors, highlights existing screening guidelines, and reviews various models of survivor care.

RECENT FINDINGS: National and international guidelines have been developed to standardize screening for survivors, and multiple models of survivorship care exist. The optimal model likely depends on individual factors, including the survivor's needs and preferences, as well as local resources. Key strategies for the successful care of survivors include accurate risk-stratification for specific late-effects, individualized screening plans, education of survivors and professionals, clear communication between providers, and well coordinated transition of care across services.

SUMMARY: Early identification and management of late-effects are important for survivors of childhood cancer. Providers should be familiar with the risks for specific late-effects and have access to screening guidelines. The strengths and weaknesses of care models, along with individual circumstances, should be considered in designing the optimal approach to care for each survivor.

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