Treating Late Effects of Cancer
Late effects may occur between two to five years after completion of treatment, but other late effects may not show up until more than 10 years after treatment. The Children's Mercy Section of Oncology has created the Survive & Thrive Program to provide specialized services for childhood cancer survivors.
Common Late Effects
- Learning or memory issues
- Emotional concerns such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety
- Heart or lung problems
- Growth failure, hypothyroidism, infertility
- Secondary cancers
Survive and Thrive Services
The program offers comprehensive medical and emotional care, education on late effects of cancer treatment, and recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The team follows the Children’s Oncology Group’s Long-term Follow-up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers to make recommendations for long-term monitoring for potential late effects of treatment. The program also works with survivors to prepare for transition of medical care to adult providers.
Late effects are health issues that can occur any time after treatment for childhood cancer. Many late effects occur between two to five years after completion of therapy but other late effects may not show up for many years after the treatment.
Many childhood cancer survivors and their families are not aware of the potential late effects that may occur many years after treatment. The earlier the problem is identified the sooner treatment can be started. The Survive and Thrive clinic can help provide information about your child's healthcare needs to their primary care doctor, ensuring that the necessary screening will continue.
- Complete physical exam, including any labs, x-rays or other
tests that may be indicated
- Medical evaluation and referral to specialists as needed
- Clinical social work assessment
- Therapeutic interventions with patients and families
- Summary including diagnosis, treatment details, complications and late effects
- Individualized recommendations for follow up based on patient’s cancer history
- Recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Transition of Care
The Survive & Thrive team assists survivors by assessing readiness to transition and barriers to transition. Preparation for transition begins when survivors are 15-16 years old. The team works with each survivor to develop a plan for transition of care once they are 21 years old. The treatment summary and recommendations for follow up are shared with the primary care provider.
The Survive and Thrive team, in collaboration with the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Midwest Cancer Alliance, has developed the Survivorship Transition Clinic. This clinic is designed to meet the ongoing health care needs of young adult survivors who have transitioned from Children’s Mercy. A nurse navigator works jointly with the Survive and Thrive Program and the Survivorship Transition Clinic.
Survivors meet the nurse navigator before leaving the Survive and Thrive Program. The nurse navigator helps survivors navigate the new health care system and continues to meet their educational needs during visits in the Survivorship Transition Clinic. The Survivorship Transition Clinic is only one option for survivors leaving Children’s Mercy. Survivors have a choice of where to continue their follow-up care and the Survive and Thrive team will work to develop a plan that best meets each survivor’s needs.
Who is eligible to attend the Survive & Thrive
Patients who may take part in the clinic:
- Diagnosed with cancer at least five years ago
- Have been off therapy for at least two years
- Are currently in remission
- Those over 18 years of age, even if above criteria are not met so we can assist with transition of medical care