Taking on Life After Cancer - Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic
The news for those facing childhood cancer continues to get better and better. Due to improvements in treatment strategies and supportive care, the overall cure rate for childhood cancers is approaching 80%. This has lead to a growing number of childhood cancer survivors who may face unique challenges in the future. Today, there are over a quarter of a million childhood cancer survivors in the United States. It is estimated that 1 out of every 570 young adults age 20-39 years is a survivor of a childhood or adolescent malignancy. This number is anticipated to continue to grow.
With the success of treating childhood cancer there has developed an emphasis to learn more about the unique needs of survivors. There has been much research into this new field. Here at the University of Alabama at Birmingham/the Children's Hospital of Alabama's TLC clinic, we understand that individuals who have completed treatment and are at low risk for recurrence of their disease require specialized care in a clinic designed to focus on survivorship issues. We are devoted to learning more about childhood cancer survivors and helping them enjoy full, successful lives.
History and Goals of the TLC Clinic
The TLC clinic was established in 2004 to improve the health and well-being of childhood cancer survivors. We are the only comprehensive clinic in Alabama designed specifically for survivors. Our goals include:
- Inform survivors and families about the specifics of their diagnosis and therapy.
- Educate survivors, families, and healthcare professionals about the long term effects of cancer treatment.
- Perform screening for late effects based on the treatments the patients received.
- Provide psychosocial evaluation and support.
- Provide referrals to specialists when needed.
Late Effects of Childhood Cancer Treatments
Over the years, we have learned that many survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer are at risk for developing physical or psychological effects related to their cancer and its treatment. The chemotherapy drugs, radiation, and surgery used to provide a cure may lead to "late effects." These late effects may include:
- Endocrine issues (impaired growth, fertility problems, hormonal imbalances, osteoporosis)
- Heart problems
- Lung problems
- Secondary cancers (leukemias, skin cancer, breast cancer, bone tumors)
- Neurocognitive problems (learning disabilities, memory loss)
- Psychological problems (depression, anxiety)
- Dental problems