Childhood Cancer Survivorship

Learn about the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology. 

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Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program

The five-year survival rate for childhood cancer has increased dramatically over the past four decades. It’s now higher than 80%. While this is fantastic news, long-term survivors must be checked for adverse side affects, known as “late effects.” Late effects may not be noticed until years after cancer treatment. About two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors have at least one late effect and about one-third have a late effect that is severe or life threatening.

Late effects can create challenges for various aspects of growth, development and organ functions, such as:

  • Bone health
  • Dental health
  • Emotional health
  • Fertility
  • Heart health
  • Kidney health
  • Learning
  • Liver health
  • Lung health
  • Thyroid health
  • Vision and hearing

Our Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program is led by our director, Smita Dandekar, MD, who teaches cancer survivors about the possible late effects and monitors them closely for these effects.

When a patient starts the program, he or she receives an up-to-date personalized treatment summary that includes all chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries or other cancer treatments received.

We then give each patient a custom "Survivorship Roadmap" detailing their risk for late effects, and how and when they should be checked for these effects. Survivors and their families also meet with our survivorship social worker at each visit to talk about things like:

  • School
  • Work
  • Behavioral, emotional and/or relationship concerns
  • Financial concerns
  • Health insurance questions
  • Survivorship education resources

To be eligible for our Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, a person must have:

  • Been diagnosed with childhood cancer at least five years earlier
  • Completed therapy at least two years before starting the program

Survivors visit our Survivorship Clinic yearly until age 18 or 10 years after therapy, whichever is later. Then the survivor becomes an alumnus of the Survivorship Program and transitions care to his or her family doctor.

Learn more about our Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program