Endocrine Late Effects after Cancer Therapy (ELECT) Program
Cancer treatments in children, including chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy, can cause endocrine problems in more than half of patients. These problems include growth disorders, problems with puberty, thyroid issues, development of diabetes mellitus, and problems with bone health. These problems can occur any time, from immediately to many years later. As cancer survival rates have improved, treatment-related endocrine disorders have become even more common.
The Endocrine Late Effects after Cancer Therapy (ELECT) Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a team with expertise in identifying and treating these problems. Children who develop endocrine complications following cancer treatment are not the same as children with other endocrine problems, and so CHOP has an endocrine team with expertise in this unique patient population.
Many factors influence endocrine late effects, including whether the child was treated with radiation and their age at the time of diagnosis. Some endocrine late effects are more prevalent in males and some in females. Endocrine complications can occur at different times related to diagnosis and treatment. Some patients, such as those treated for brain tumors, might experience problems with growth or early puberty at the time of cancer diagnosis or shortly following treatment. In other patients, hormonal problems might not manifest for several years after treatment. Certain treatments, such as bone marrow transplant, require total body irradiation and high-dose alkylating chemotherapy, leading to gonadal failure (deficiencies of estrogen in girls and testosterone in boys), poor bone health and future risk for diabetes mellitus. The ELECT Program has the breadth and depth of expertise to anticipate, evaluate and manage every patient’s unique journey.
Some cancer treatment can also increase risk for subsequent malignancies in endocrine organs, notably in the thyroid gland. CHOP houses one of the premier childhood cancer programs in the world to address thyroid cancer or other secondary cancers.
The ELECT Program includes pediatric endocrinologists and a dual-certified pediatric oncologist/endocrinologist who have demonstrated expertise in the endocrine late effects of cancer treatment.