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Program to benefit adult survivors of childhood cancer

Posted on 05/02/2015 8:00am

 

February 5, 2015 – Vancouver, BC Adult survivors of childhood cancer who suffer from the effects of their cancer treatment will have support through the Adult Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program.  

These cancer survivors are at risk for multiple and often complex health problems for years after their cancer treatment. Many may be unaware of the ongoing risks and need to be provided with information and support to ensure they can be as healthy as possible.

The new provincial program will be an evidence-based program dedicated to the clinical and research needs of adult childhood cancer survivors. The program will build on the existing expertise and resources of BC Children’s Hospital, the BC Cancer Agency and primary care providers. It will include:

  • Improved transition services for cancer survivors moving from pediatric to adult care to ensure a seamless transition from youth to adult services for lifelong follow-up.
  • A registry to track patients based on their levels of risk associated with past treatments, the patient’s age and diagnosis to ensure they receive appropriate long-term support.
  • A recall of past patients who were treated when there was limited information about the effects of treatment during childhood so they can receive follow-up care over their lifetime as needed.
  • Research and evaluation to ensure the program is meeting the needs of survivors and their families.

The program is a partnership of the BC Cancer Agency and BC Children’s Hospital, agencies of the Provincial Health Services Authority, and has been developed in consultation with the Pediatric Cancers Survivorship Society of BC. A working group that included cancer survivors and their families, as well as clinical experts helped to create the plans for the program.

Funding to support the program is being provided by the Ministry of Health, the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the BC Cancer Foundation.

Quick facts:

  • About 120 new adult survivors of childhood cancer transition from pediatric to adult care each year in BC.
  • There are currently approximately 3,000 pediatric cancer survivors in BC who were diagnosed from 1982-2010, when they were between the ages of 0 and 17 years.
  • Those treated with radiation therapy and intensive chemotherapy have an 80 per cent chance of developing significant health concerns by the time they are 40 years old.
  • Treatment for childhood cancer often results in many long-term physical challenges such as: increased risks of heart and lung disease, learning disabilities, endocrine problems and diabetes, osteoporosis and infertility. Anxiety and depression are also common in childhood cancer survivors and may impact many aspects of life, including the ability to work or attend school.

Quotes:

Terry Lake, Health Minister

For many patients surviving childhood cancer can be one step on a complex health care journey. That is why government is committed to providing support for youth and adult survivors of cancer who continue to deal with the long-term effects of cancer treatments.

Dr. Karen Goddard, Radiation Oncologist, BC Cancer Agency

This is such a wonderful opportunity for us to build a survivorship program which recognizes and addresses the special needs of childhood cancer survivors. As more children survive cancer, more people in our province are living with the long-term effects of their previous illness and treatment. Funding for the survivorship program will allow the BC Cancer Agency to improve the health and well-being of those who continue to cope with medical issues long after they have successfully managed their cancer.

Patti Byron, Senior Director Specialized Pediatrics, BC Children’s Hospital

Improvements in pediatric cancer therapy have led to improved success and cure rates allowing these children to live into adulthood. BCCH providers are committed to working with our partners at the BC Cancer Agency to provide recall information, transition planning and guidance for life-long follow-up care.

Carolyn Vacheresse, President, PCSSBC

The number of pediatric cancer survivors is increasing and the need for assistance is immediate. The Pediatric Cancers Survivorship Society of BC wishes to express our endorsement of the Ministry of Health’s and the Provincial Health Services Authority’s support to improve the delivery of health care for adult childhood cancer survivors.

The BC Cancer Agency is part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, providing province-wide speciality health care. Together, they are transforming health care through innovation. The BC Cancer Agency provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.bc.ca.

BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides expert care for the province’s most seriously ill or injured children, including newborns and adolescents. It is an academic health centre affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the Child & Family Research Institute. Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children is the provincial facility that offers specialized child development and rehabilitation services to children and youth.

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For more information, contact:

Jenn Currie
Communications Officer
BC Cancer Agency
Office: 604-675-8106  
Media pager: 604-871-5699
jenn.currie@bccancer.bc.ca