As a neuropsychologist and child psychologist, I help children, adolescents, young adults, and their caregivers who are affected by cancer. For example, I work with young patients during treatment and into survivorship to help them express their thoughts and feelings, communicate more openly with their family and friends, and develop specific plans for their life after treatment. I also provide direct support for parents as they grapple with the many transitions and range of emotions that arise from a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
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When children, adolescents, and young adults come to see me after finishing their medical treatment, they are often concerned about being able to successfully transition back to school or work. First, I listen to all their concerns and answer any questions that come up. Next, we work together to identify cognitive, academic, social-emotional, and behavioral strengths that can help ease their transition. We also discuss areas that may be difficult and then identify ways to address these challenges. I actively involve patients, parents, and teachers to develop specific plans, interventions, and accommodations to facilitate the smoothest transition possible and to challenge and grow areas of academic and personal strength.
My research focus aims to identify children, adolescents, and young adults who are at increased risk of lower neuropsychological functioning due to their medical diagnosis and treatment. From there, we can develop targeted research studies to provide proactive interventions, with the ultimate goal of eliminating or minimizing negative effects for these patients and survivors.
I collaborate closely with a range of different types of Memorial Sloan Kettering physicians to study and document the late effects of treatments for pediatric brain tumors and leukemias. I specifically study proton-beam cranial irradiation and other novel therapies designed to cure cancers while simultaneously minimizing late effects through the use of less toxic therapies. Together, with my colleagues in MSK’s survivorship programs, we use this information to provide interventions and improve outcomes for our young patients.
It is my goal for children, adolescents, young adults, and families affected by cancer to have a clear understanding of the possible effects of medical treatments, as well as the different neuropsychological, social-emotional, and behavioral strengths and challenges that often come up. I am honored to provide support, guidance, and empathy for young patients and their families, and I am continually inspired by their resilience, strength, courage, and adaptability.
- Clinical Expertise: Neuropsychological, Educational, Social-Emotional, Quality of Life, and Behavioral Assessments for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, and Stem Cell Transplant Patients; Accommodations, Services, and Cognitive Interventions to Maximize Transition to Survivorship
- Awards and Honors: Best Clinical Research, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Research Symposium, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (2004); Pediatric Oncology Service Award, the Valerie Fund (2014); Excellence in Quality of Care Award, Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (2016)
- Languages Spoken: English
- Education: PsyD, New York University
- Residencies: St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center
- Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Sands SA. Helping Survivors of Medulloblastoma Learn From What We Learn. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2013 Oct 1;31(28):3480-2.
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Oberg, JA, Dave AN, Bruce JN and Sands SA. Neurocognitive functioning and quality of life in patients with recurrent malignant gliomas treated on a phase Ib trial evaluating topotecan by convection-enhanced delivery. Neuro-Oncology Practice 2014 Sep;1(3):94-100.
Bhatia M, Kolva E, Cimini L, Jin Z, Satwani P, Savone M, George D, Garvin J, Paz ML, Briamonte C, Cruz-Arrieta E, and Sands SA. Health-Related Quality of Life after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation 2015 Apr;21(4):666-672.
Olson K and Sands SA. Cognitive training programs for childhood cancer patients and survivors: A critical review and future directions. Child Neuropsychology 2016;22(5):509-36.
Sands SA. Proton Beam Radiation Therapy: The Future May Prove Brighter for Pediatric Brain Tumor Patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016 Apr;34(10):1024-1026.
Sands SA, Mee L, Bartell A, Manne S, Devine KA, Savone M and Kashy DA. Group-Based Trajectory Modeling of Distress and Well-Being Among Caregivers of Children Undergoing Hematopoetic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT). Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2016 Aug.
Sands SA, Harel BT, Savone M, Kelly K, Vijayanathan V, Welch JG, Vrooman LM, Silverman LB and Cole P. Feasibility of Baseline Neurocognitive Assessment using Cogstate During the First Month of Therapy for Childhood Leukemia. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2016 Oct.
Sands SA, Ladas EJ, Kelly KM, Dave A, Weiner M, Lin M, Hughes Ndao D, Vahdat LT and Glade-Bender J. Glutamine for the Treatment of Vincristine-Induced Neuropathy in Children and Adolescents with Cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer 2017.
Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.
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Clinical Trials Led by Stephen A. Sands
Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.Learn more