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While 80% of children and young adults diagnosed with cancer will survive, more than 85% of childhood cancer survivors will experience a significant chronic health condition after treatment. Health problems that occur after treatment are called late effects and may occur throughout the life of the survivor. These late effects may include physical, psychological and social issues.

Identifying and treating these problems early helps survivors lead a full life—performing to the best of their abilities in school, growing and developing normally, feeling strong and resilient, and even having families of their own one day.

At the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we believe survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer who have been off treatment for approximately two years should have long-term, follow-up care in a specialized survivor program. Blood and marrow transplant (BMT) survivors treated for non-cancer conditions should also participate. Through our Cancer Survivor Program, we offer:

  • Multidisciplinary care focused on the survivor’s needs.
  • A review of the patient’s medical history.
  • Complete evaluations, including a physical exam, blood work and any other tests needed.
  • A personalized plan of care based on national guidelines produced by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).
  • Education about the risks of medical problems associated with the specific cancer treatments the survivor received.
  • Help with school, job or insurance problems.
  • Support for any physical or emotional changes or problems.
  • Opportunities to enroll in research studies that focus on survivors and the late effects of treatment.
  • Beyond the Cure, an annual conference held on the last Saturday of February to educate cancer survivors and their parents about late effects, survivorship and the need for lifelong care.

Many cancer survivors have to deal with late effects due to their cancer treatments. 

Risk for late effects vary by individual and by diagnosis and treatment. They can occur many years after treatment ends and may include physical, emotional or social issues, such as:

  • Growth and developmental problems
  • Learning disabilities and memory difficulties
  • Diseases of the heart and lungs
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Secondary cancers
  • Infertility

To help prevent or prepare for potential problems, cancer survivors should receive long-term, follow-up care. Lifelong survivorship care takes teamwork from:

  • Pediatric primary and adult primary care physicians.
  • Cancer survivor specialists. These are healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about the health concerns of cancer survivors. They can check for late effects of cancer treatment and identify ways to help prevent or reduce the risk of health problems following cancer care.
  • Subspecialists, such as endocrine or heart doctors, to help prevent or treat specific health problems.
  • Psychologists and educational or occupational specialists.

Many BMT survivors deal with late effects due to chemo or radiation or because of the body’s reaction to the transplant.

Risk for late effects vary by individual and by diagnosis and treatment. They can occur many years after treatment ends and may include physical, emotional or social issues, such as:

  • Graft versus host disease (GVHD), which is inflammation that occurs when the donor cells attack the body
  • Growth and development problems
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Diseases of the heart and lungs
  • Kidney problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Vision and dental problems
  • Secondary cancers
  • Infertility

To help prevent or prepare for potential problems, transplant survivors should receive long-term, follow-up care. Lifelong survivorship care takes teamwork from:

  • Pediatric and adult primary care physicians.
  • Survivor specialists. These are healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about the health concerns of BMT survivors. They can check for late effects of transplant and identify ways to help prevent or reduce the risk of health problems following care.
  • Subspecialists, such as endocrine and heart doctors, to help prevent or treat specific health problems.
  • Psychologists and educational or occupational specialists.

The SHP is a helpful resource for your child’s other care providers, such as a primary care doctor, dentist, psychologist, schoolteacher or social worker, to quickly learn about a your child’s cancer history and how to best care for him in the future.

Each SHP includes:

  • A medical summary of the survivor’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • An individualized risk profile detailing what late effects can occur after cancer treatment.
  • A personalized surveillance plan that outlines tests a survivor needs to screen for late effects and how often to have certain tests.

This online resource keeps survivors connected with providers so that survivors are better prepared when making future healthcare decisions.

Cancer SurvivorLink is a website created for survivors of cancer and BMT and their healthcare providers to:

  • Learn about the lifelong healthcare needs of survivors.
  • Store their Survivor Healthcare Plan (SHP) and other healthcare documents.
  • Share documents with their healthcare team.
  • Medical professionals can access health records online to understand their patients’ diagnoses and treatments. Armed with this knowledge, they are better prepared to make future healthcare decisions. 

The electronic system includes each patient’s:

  • SHP
  • Educational materials for survivors, families and providers
  • National guidelines for survivorship care
  • Links to useful resources for survivors
  • Other clinical information needed to provide long-term care
  • Whether a patient lives in Georgia or has moved out of state, SurvivorLink eases communication and information sharing.

We are home to one of the leading childhood cancer survivor programs in the country, providing survivor care to 1,673 pediatric cancer survivors over the past five years. Founded in 2001, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has offered its multidisciplinary Cancer Survivor Program to address the unique needs of childhood cancer survivors who are at least two years off therapy.

  • We have a robust Fertility Preservation Program to provide counseling and guide interventions to preserve reproductive material for future use.
  • Our team developed Cancer SurvivorLinka revolutionary web-based tool for survivors and their care teams to learn about cancer survivorship, store important health documents and share those documents with healthcare providers.
  • Ann Mertens, PhD, Research Director of the Cancer Survivor Program, launched a new funding initiative with Cancer SurvivorLink to facilitate the adoption of evidence-based guidelines for the surveillance of late effects among pediatric cancer survivors through COG clinics at the national level.
  • Karen Effinger, MD, MS, Pediatric Hematologist and Oncologist, initiated a funded initiative for the adaptation of a web-based behavioral intervention tool called Achieving Wellness After Kancer in Early Life (AWAKE) for use with adolescent cancer survivors and their guardians to improve a survivor’s hope, health-promoting behaviors and quality of life.
  • Our staff is actively involved in the COG Survivorship working group and contributed to the Long-term Follow-up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers.
  • We are a member of a five-center consortium for intervention research on supportive care, health screening, health status, health behaviors and chemo prevention.
  • We are a participant in the national Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) that examines late effects of cancer treatment.

The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is committed to excellence and innovation in pediatric cancer and blood disorders research. As Georgia’s top pediatric cancer research center, we are home to one of the largest clinical trial programs in the country, through which we offer our patients access to novel childhood cancer and blood disorders treatment options.

View our open research studies:

Receiving a cancer diagnosis for your child can be an emotional and overwhelming experience. At the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we are here to support you and your family. Whether treating a toddler during an emergency or helping a teen through chemotherapy treatments, we make it our mission to provide the best care—and best experience—for every child. Family is a big part of your child’s well-being. Not only are you a vital member of the healthcare team; you are a source of security and comfort.

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