The great strides made in treating pediatric cancer in the past four decades are directly related to the commitment of pediatric oncology to organized clinical research. However, the need for research continues. It is important to understand how the therapies that have been and are used to treat cancer will impact the lives of future survivors.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is at the forefront of studying the late effects — on both body and mind — of childhood cancer. Investigators at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have studied and reported on many medical and psychological late effects in survivors of childhood cancer.
In 1996, Children’s Hospital became one of 25 sites across the United States and Canada to participate in the long-term Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), which was established with funding from the National Cancer Institute. The ongoing CCSS study involves 14,000 childhood cancer survivors diagnosed between 1970 and 1986, many of whom were Children's Hospital patients. CCSS studies have focused on both the medical and psychosocial late effects of treatment. Investigators will continue to expand their research to include survivors diagnosed after 1986. Children's Hospital is looking forward to participating in the next phase of this important research study.
The late effects of cancer go beyond the physical. According to new research findings, most survivors have experienced at least some lingering psychological effects, ranging from sleep problems to intrusive memories that cause intense distress. Researchers at Children’s Hospital were the first in the nation to study the psychological impact of surviving childhood cancer on the patient and the family. In 1997, investigators reported that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in both cancer survivors and their parents, when compared with similar families without a sick child. PTSD symptoms include bothersome memories, avoidance and physiological symptoms of anxiety.