October 8, 2008

Texas Children’s Cancer Center Launches Nation’s First Comprehensive Web-Based Application for Care of Childhood Cancer Survivors

Texas Children's Cancer Center today launched Passport for Care, an innovative Web-based application that provides childhood cancer survivors and their physicians with immediate access to a survivor's diagnosis and treatment history. Passport for Care provides detailed, individualized health care recommendations based on the most up-to-date national survivorship care guidelines.

Passport for Care inventor and Texas Children's Cancer Center director Dr. David Poplack said the Web-based solution, one of the first to address the critically important issues pediatric cancer survivors face, will be offered free to physicians, and ultimately, survivors, with the goal of helping them live longer, healthier lives.

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.

In addition to late effects, childhood cancer survivors face other issues as well. 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 individualized recommendations tailored to a survivor's unique health care needs. 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.

Pediatric cancer survivors choose to enroll in Passport for Care upon completing treatment. Information is accessible 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 exciting to see this first phase of Passport for Care become reality," stated Dr. Poplack, who saw the need for Passport for Care more than 20 years ago. "It is incredibly important to childhood cancer survivors and their families that these survivors receive proper care once they are cured. Passport for Care supports this need by providing accurate information to empower survivors to manage their follow-up care - no matter where they live or what type of physician they see." 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, California. "We are looking forward to the roll-out of Passport for Care," said Dr. Smita Bhatia, chair of Population Sciences at City of Hope. "This resource will have far-reaching positive effects on the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors, and will provide them with control over their own medical information and care."

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.

About Texas Children's Cancer Center

As an international leader in pediatric cancer research and treatment, Texas Children's Cancer Center is dedicated to providing novel therapies and family-centered care to children from infancy through young adulthood with cancer and blood disorders - from the most common to rare. Ranked in the top three pediatric cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News &World Report, Texas Children's Cancer Center treats 1,900 new patients and conducts 33,000 outpatient visits annually, with patients coming from 35 states and 26 countries around the world. Learn more at www.cancer.texaschildrens.org.