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Childhood Cancer Survivors May Suffer Health Problems in Adulthood

said Dr. Meadows, is the need for continued medical surveillance of adult survivors of childhood cancer. "Fewer than 20 percent of these patients are followed by an oncologist or at a cancer center, but they clearly have special medical needs and higher risks," she added. There are currently 270,000 survivors of pediatric cancer in the U.S.

Dr. Meadows is nationally recognized as an expert in treatment-related effects of children's cancer. Her studies in the 1970s and 1980s showed that brain radiation used to treat children with leukemia damaged the children's cognitive development and raised their risk of later brain cancer. That research helped to change medical practice, as physicians eliminated or reduced radiation doses to the head during treatment for childhood leukemia.

Because of such studies on treatment effects, and based on many clinical trials in pediatric oncology that have led to improved treatments over the years, Dr. Meadows predicts that children diagnosed with cancer since 1987 will have fewer chronic problems as survivors than the cohort analyzed in the current study.

On the strength of her clinical and research experience with childhood cancer survivors, Dr. Meadows became the first director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute, serving from 1996 to 1999. She has been part of the CCSS since its inception in 1993, and chairs its publication committee, guiding the organization's output of some 50 articles.



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