Contact: Ellen Bank


Sept. 20, 2000

MUSC Among Top 25 Follow-up Clinics for Childhood Cancer Survivors

(Note: staff members will be available for interview at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 [the next clinic day]. Also arrangements can be made to speak with patient participants with advance notification)

CHARLESTON, SC -- The Medical University of South Carolina has been named by Nancy Keene, well-known author of books that help families of children with cancer, and her publisher Patient-Centered Guides, as one of the "Top 25 aftercare centers for childhood cancer survivors in the United States.

"The powerful drugs and radiation used to cure children affect developing minds and growing bodies," said Keene, co-author of Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Practical Guide to Your Future. "Two hundred fifty thousand survivors of childhood cancer live in the U.S., and unfortunately, they are often cured and then ignored.

MUSC's FACT (Follow-up After Cancer Treatment) Clinic meets at least quarterly, providing long-term follow-up for survivors of childhood cancer. It is coordinated by Diane Dufour, nurse practitioner. Clinic personnel also includes a pediatric oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a pediatric endocrinologist, a pediatric cardiologist, a social worker and specialists in developmental pediatrics and child life. Because chemotherapy can cause early tooth loss and dental decay, patients are also seen by a dentist for education and prevention.

The FACT program is open to children and young adults who have been off chemotherapy for at least two years and who have been disease-free for five, regardless of where they received treatment.

Keene, in an attempt to help desperate survivors search for doctors who understood their unique needs, surveyed more than 100 major children's hospitals across the nation to find out which ones provided comprehensive services to children, teens and adults who are survivors of childhood cancer. The MUSC FACT program's facilities, staff and philosophy met the criteria to be on the Top 25 list. The criteria used included:

* Institution has a clinic specifically designed to treat survivors of childhood cancer.

* The clinic coordinator (usually a nurse practitioner) has a special interest and skills in treating survivors.

* Survivors see a physician or nurse practitioner who are educated and experienced in treating the special needs of survivors of childhood cancer.

* The clinic refers survivors to specialists (endocrinologists, cardiologists, etc.) Who are experienced in treating the special needs of survivors of childhood cancer.

Some examples of late effects after cure from childhood cancer are;

* Breast Cancer at an early age in female Hodgkin's survivors who receive mantle radiation in their teens.

* Heart disease after treatment with some types of chemotherapy or high-dose chest radiation.

* Learning disabilities in survivors treated with radiation and or chemotherapy to the brain.

* Second cancers from chemotherapy drugs or radiation used to cure the first cancer.

* infection with hepatitis C virus in some survivors who received transfusions prior to 1992.

"Survivors need expert follow-up from trained professionals to improve quality of life through early detection and intervention for late effects from treatment.," said Ruth Hoffman, executive director of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. "We now send them the "Top 25" list so they can get the care they deserve."