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The crucial role of primary care providers in the long-term follow-up of adult survivors of childhood cancer

Authors Jain J, Qorri B, Szewczuk MR

Received 10 December 2018

Accepted for publication 19 February 2019

Published 23 April 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 3411—3418


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Alexandra R. Fernandes

Justin Jain,1 Bessi Qorri,2 Myron R Szewczuk2

1Postgraduate Medical Education, Graduate Diploma and Professional Master in Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada; 2Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Purpose: The potential physical or psychosocial factors that play a role in the progression of childhood cancer survivors into adulthood are essential in the identification of an effective patient-centred approach to therapy. Despite the presence of guidelines published by the Children’s Oncology Group, knowledge of the long-term health sequelae for the care of survivors is sub-optimal. Here, the pertinent clinical issues that may affect survivors of childhood cancer are outlined for primary care providers (PCPs).
Methods: This literature search identified articles using PubMed, EMBASE Ovid, and the Cochrane Library to determine high-quality, multicenter randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines from December 1998 to December 2018. The keywords of the search were primary care providers; childhood cancer survivors; long-term care and mental health. Guidelines and research using retrospective studies are used to compile evidence to address PCP’s involvement and to describe the factors involved in the adult onset of psychological disorders in survivors of childhood cancer. A focus of this article is to use the literature that evaluated pediatric cancer survivors for at least five years post diagnosis and had received cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplant, or surgery. Additional research focused on primary care physicians addressing the care of childhood cancer survivors. Here, we aim to provide PCPs and physicians with a critical yet concise update on the recent advancements for this important healthcare topic. This paper presents an overview of previously published reviews and, as such, requires no ethics approval.
Results: Childhood cancer survivors can develop symptoms of depression and suffer from low self-esteem from their diagnosis and treatment regimens. These symptoms can result in functional impairment. Child diagnosis also affects parental health, resulting in the experience of psychological, emotional and traumatic stress. The feeling of helplessness and guilt on parents leads to the potentiation of depression on the child survivor.
Conclusions: Primary care providers, in collaboration with clinician specialists, must be vigilant in providing consistent long-term care. This approach will ensure clear constant communication to help address the challenges faced by the families and survivors as they progress through adulthood.
Implications for cancer survivors: Encouraging primary care providers to become knowledgeable and comfortable in utilizing appropriate resources is achieved through consultation with oncology or psychiatric specialists or with online resources for safer management of childhood cancer survivors. The implications for this patient population would ultimately allow for a more patient-centred approach to therapy.

Keywords: primary care providers, childhood cancer survivors, long-term care, mental health

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