By learning more about these late effects of treatment, the health care services can, on the one hand, improve and reduce the intensity of the treatment, and, on the other hand, find appropriate ways to care for those suffering from side-effects of the treatment in adolescence and adulthood.
The cancer care services in Lund, Sweden, set up a late effects clinic for children affected by cancer as early as 1987. Twenty years later, in 2007, Lund organised the first European conference on late complications of childhood cancer.
This became the start of the EU project, PanCareSurFup (PanCare Childhood and Adolescent Cancer Survivor Care and Follow-up Studies), with a budget of almost EUR 6 million, which will kick off with a meeting in Lund, Sweden, at the end of this week. On Thursday, 3 February, a press conference will be held at 9:45 in Lukas Sal at the Grand Hôtel in Lund.
One person who has experience of childhood cancer is 24-year-old Linnea Renholm Persson. At the age of 12, she fell ill with the serious cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia. Thanks to six months of harsh treatment, she gradually recovered without having to undergo an arduous bone marrow transplant. In the spring, Linnea is planning to move in with her partner and sometimes she wonders whether the treatment may have affected her ability to have children.
The consortium's project coordinator is paediatric oncologist Lars Hjorth from Skåne University Hospital and Lund University. Epidemiologist Julie Byrne from the Boyne Research Institute in Ireland will also be in Lund for the kick-off. She is behind a number of major register studies of late complications of childhood cancer treatment.
Thirty-four other specialists are involved in the project, representing 16 institutions in 11 countries. Their task is to draw up guidelines for best clinical practice in order to cure to the greatest extent possible without causing harm.
The discussions will also address the best possible follow-up of those who currently live with side-effects of their cancer treatment - from high-risk treatments that affect the kidneys and heart to low-risk cases with more indeterminable symptoms.
PanCareSurFup will run for five years and is also supported by national funding from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation.