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Dr Jordana McLoone, Dr Claire Wakefield and Associate Professor Richard Cohn

Supportive Care Research Grant-in-Aid

Chief investigators: Dr Jordana McLoone, Dr Claire Wakefield 
    and Associate Professor Richard Cohn
Institutes:                  Sydney Children’s Hospital and University of 
                            New South Wales
Project title:              Developing a national survivorship care plan for 
            survivors of childhood blood cancer
Disease focus:          Blood cancers
Funding:                    $48,875
Funding period:        2014

Project summary

Childhood blood cancer survivors face life-long increased risk of developing health problems following cancer treatment. To help decrease these health risks, a team of researchers from Sydney Children’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales is developing a Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) template.

The team is working alongside both Australian and New Zealand hospitals to draft the first national SCP template.

Oncologists use a SCP to provide patient-specific, long-term systematic schedules for preventative action and surveillance. The plans help ensure blood cancer survivors receive the best post-treatment care after they transition out of the tertiary health system.  

According to project co-leader Dr Jordana McLoone, putting a national SCP template in place should help overcome two critical barriers to Australian childhood blood cancer survivors receiving long-term care.

“At the moment, many survivors are self-managing their long-tem care and less than a third regularly attend a Long-Term Follow-Up clinic and many do not have a regular primary/community health care provider (GP).

“There’s also a key healthcare barrier as survivors can’t turn to their GPs for long-term care, with 99 per cent of Australian GPs saying they’re not confident or educated enough to care for childhood cancer survivors independently of an oncologist.

“With a Survivorship Care Plan, there is a consistent and clear pathway for follow-up care that takes the onus off the survivor and can be shared with GPs to enhance the complex care they require.

“The structure, certainty and proactive strategies provided by Survivorship Care Plans have the potential to help decrease the likelihood of cancer recurrence and late effects of treatment.”