We've made great strides in the treatment of childhood cancers, with more children surviving than ever before. This is tremendously rewarding to us as physicians. Yet with this success comes a possible risk of long-term side effects related to cancer and its treatment. As Director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Long-Term Follow-Up Program, I oversee the care of survivors of all types of pediatric cancers, educating them and monitoring their health so we can find and treat related health problems as early as possible.
We always try to emphasize that most survivors have normal healthy lives. But since we can't predict the small percentage who may go on to develop problems, it's important for them to get extra screening tests to monitor their health. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we're also able to offer survivors of pediatric cancer lifetime follow-up care through our Program for Adult Survivors of Pediatric Cancer.
To study the long-term effects of treatment, I was one of the founding members of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), which is tracking some 14,000 adult survivors of pediatric cancers and a group of their healthy siblings. The findings of the CCSS have already identified several diseases and disorders that may be more common among some childhood-cancer survivors — information which former patients and healthcare professionals are using to determine the best way to monitor the health of survivors into adulthood.
As a pediatric endocrinologist, I also care for patients with any endocrine (hormonal) complications that may develop as a result of pediatric cancer therapy. I was attracted to endocrinology because I find it to be intellectually challenging, with its own internal logic and coherence. Treatment for cancer in children can sometimes cause problems with growth, sexual development, fertility, and thyroid function, as well as second cancers and heart disease. I conduct research to assess the risks of these possible complications in pediatric-cancer survivors. I also treat children and young adults with endocrine tumors, such as those affecting the thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands.
I lecture internationally about the long-term health effects of pediatric cancer treatment and also teach medical students and fellows. I am very involved in several professional organizations, including serving as a medical advisor to the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation and The Children's Cause, Inc. I review grants for the National Cancer Institute and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, as well as articles for several scientific journals. In 2000, I received an Outstanding Service Award from CancerCare.
It is satisfying for me to know that research I helped lead is now benefiting children being treated for cancer, minimizing their future risk of therapy-related problems. I find it very gratifying to see our patients not only survive their cancers but grow up to become adults who can lead productive, rewarding lives.