Survivorship

New research will be presented this weekend at the Cancer Survivorship Symposium: Advancing Care and Research.

In 2002, I attended the first Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, Cancer Survivorship: Resilience Across the Lifespan, in Washington, DC.

There weren’t many of us there compared to the meetings now being held, including the one I am attending this weekend, the Cancer Survivorship Symposium: Advancing Care and Research.

Some 500 survivorship researchers and clinicians have gathered to explore such issues as genetics, models of care, gaps in professional education, complicated survivorship care and long-term and late effects. This meeting, supported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, has a focus of research and clinical application, which is similar to the Biennial Cancer Survivorship meeting presented by the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship and the American Cancer Society.

I am thrilled that there is enough research and clinical support for survivorship to hold two meetings. And yet, it is to be expected since survivorship has been recognized as a distinct phase of the cancer journey.

In fact, today’s presentations started with the Ellen Stovall Award and Lecture presented by Anna Meadows, M.D., professor Emeritus at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Meadows, one of the leading physicians in the recognition of issues relates to childhood cancer survivors, spoke not only about the history of survivorship, but also the ongoing attention being paid to quality of life for childhood survivors.

Her involvement goes back to 1972 when she was asked to research childhood cancer survivors quality of life after receiving cranial radiation. The results were startling in the diminished cognitive ability of those children treated with radiation. But in addition to these findings, Meadows heard many other challenges faced by these children as the years progressed after their treatment. Understanding these long term effects has driven the remainder of her professional life and impacted research of hundreds of others.

Her presentation was named in honor of Ellen Stovall, one of the founders of National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, who died in 2016 after surviving three bouts of cancer.

Stovall advocated for 30 years to improve cancer care in America, and was instrumental in the creation of the Office of Survivorship at the NCI. The award, to be presented annually, will recognize extraordinary individuals in the field of cancer survivorship.