Home » Web-based Program Offers Tailor-Made Treatment Plans for Cancer Survivors
November 1, 2008 – Texas Children’s Hospital
by Carol Wittman
Adults who survived cancer as children have a new tool to help with their health care.
David Poplack, M.D., director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, has invented Passport for Care, a Web-based program that lists the medical treatment a patient underwent as a child, and recommends future health care for that individual based on the most up-to-date national survivorship care guidelines.
While survival rates for childhood cancer have increased to more than 75 percent in recent years, cancer treatment may cause health complications that arise later in life. According to a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, some 70 percent of childhood cancer survivors will develop chronic medical problems related to their original cancer diagnosis within 30 years’ time. In many of the survivors, these conditions may be severe or life-threatening.
Most U.S. hospitals do not have cancer survivor programs or physicians who are experienced in treating childhood cancer survivors and the health issues they may face. Also, many survivors lose track of their treatment histories as they become adults. Passport for Care is designed to address these issues and support physicians and survivors worldwide by providing immediate access to the survivor’s medical history and recommendations for that survivor’s future treatment plans. These treatment plans are generated from the survivor’s medical history and use the most up-to-date guidelines for care developed by the Children’s Oncology Group, an international consortium of childhood cancer centers.
Passport for Care will be offered free to physicians, and ultimately, survivors, with the goal of helping them live longer, healthier lives.
Pediatric cancer survivors choose to enroll in Passport for Care upon completing treatment. Information is provided only to the survivor and physicians to whom the survivor grants access.
Passport for Care becomes available at a crucial time. The Centers for Disease Control and the President’s Cancer Panel have identified cancer survivorship as a national health priority. There are nearly 12 million cancer survivors in the United States – 300,000 of them childhood cancer survivors – who are at risk for health complications resulting from their original cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“It is incredibly important to childhood cancer survivors and their families that these survivors receive proper care once they are cured,” stated Poplack, who saw the need for Passport for Care more than 20 years ago.
Developed by Texas Children’s Cancer Center in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine, phase one of Passport for Care outlines health recommendations and follow-up care plans for physicians who treat childhood cancer survivors. The first phase has been pilot-tested at the Texas Children’s Cancer Center, where more than 300 care plans for survivors have been created. The second phase of development will provide survivors access to their individual health recommendations, empowering them to actively manage their ongoing care.
One of the centers that will soon receive Passport for Care is City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. Ultimately, Dr. Poplack and the team at Texas Children’s Cancer Center plan to expand access to all 238 Children’s Oncology Group member institutions by the second half of 2009.
Pictured from left to right: Attending a press conference at Texas Children’s Hospital about the invention of a new Web program that tracks a cancer survivors’ medical history from childhood through adulthood are, from left, Michael Fordis Jr., M.D.; David Poplack, M.D., the program’s inventor; ZoAnn Dreyer, M.D.; and Marc E. Horowitz, M.D.