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For Survivors of Childhood Cancers, Specialized Support Can Make All the Difference

More people are living at least 5 years after their original pediatric cancer diagnosis

According to the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), 400,000 childhood cancer survivors are alive today, and that number is expected to grow to half a million by 2020.

But this recent progress in beating childhood cancers is also countered by some sobering statistics.

The American Cancer Society reports that two in three survivors of childhood cancer experience debilitating late effects from their treatment. These can include fertility issues, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary problems, endocrine issues, metabolic syndrome, growth delays, as well as second malignancies.

To serve this population of at-risk survivors, more and more survivorship clinics have been opening around the country to regularly monitor, educate, and support patients.

"We know survivors are living longer and are at increased risk for late effects. At the University of Kansas Cancer Center Survivorship Transition Clinic (KUCC STC), we provide comprehensive care that includes screening for late effects and providing education to minimize their risks and promote a healthy lifestyle," explained Kyla Alsman, RN, BSN, nurse navigator at KUCC STC.

And not only are survivorship clinics beneficial to patients, but they're desired by survivors as well, according to a research project done by Alsman's colleagues from Midwest Cancer Alliance (MCA), the outreach arm of The University of Kansas (KU) Cancer Center, and Children's Mercy. The project, which prompted the development of the Survivorship Transition Clinic, revealed that of 272 young adult survivors who had been treated at KU Medical Center or Children's Mercy, 52% wanted more information about what late effects to expect, and 47% wanted more information on how to deal with such late effects, including what tests were necessary.

The clinic, which opened November 2014, was established through collaboration with MCA, KU Medical Center, and Children's Mercy.

Read more via Oncology Nursing News.