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Original article

Vol. 152 No. 1314 (2022)

Long-term follow-up for childhood cancer survivors: the Geneva experience

  • Shai Babecoff
  • Florence Mermillod
  • Denis Marino
  • Angèle Gayet-Ageron
  • Marc Ansari
  • Eugenio Fernandez
  • Fabienne Gumy-Pause
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30153


AIMS OF THE STUDY: Although the 5-year survival for pediatric cancer in Switzerland today is over 85%, two thirds of the survivors will develop chronic health conditions due to the disease or to the toxicity of treatments. In this context, a long-term personalized follow-up program (LTFU program), was set up at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) since 2015. We aimed to describe this program, more particularly the specialized follow-ups set up, the cumulative burden of the chronic health conditions, and finally assess the satisfaction of patients and/or their parents with it.

METHODS: A monocentric retrospective study was performed where data on follow-ups and chronic health conditions were collected from medical charts of people who had childhood cancer and who participated in the LTFU program. Chronic health conditions were classified and graded in severity with the Common Terminology Criteria of Adverse Events (CTCAE) classification, version 5.0. This study was completed by a satisfaction survey among patients and/or their parents.

RESULTS: Out of 83 eligible patients, 51 (61.4%) accepted to participate, with an average age of 17.4 years (range, 10 to 35) at the time of study. Mean delay since end of treatment was 9.8 years (range: 4.5–31). The prevalence of any chronic health condition is 82.3%, 43.1% for having 1 or 2 chronic health conditions and 39.2% for having more than 3 chronic health conditions. The total number of Grade CTCAE 1–4 chronic health conditions was 118 for the 51 participants, with a mean of 2.3 (range, 0 to 7) disorders per patient. The most frequently affected systems were neurological (14.4%), musculoskeletal (13.6%), endocrine (9.3%) and renal (9.3%) systems. Sarcoma, central nervous system tumors and neuroblastoma were the diagnoses associated with the highest average number of chronic health conditions. Among the 118 questionnaires sent to patients and/or parents, we received 82 (69.5%) responses. The level of satisfaction was good to excellent for more than 90% of the participants, for all the items evaluated.

CONCLUSIONS: Childhood cancer survivors present a significant number of chronic health conditions, confirming the need for appropriate long-term, multidisciplinary and patient-specific medical follow-up based on the primary diagnosis and therapies received. Moreover, the LTFU program at the HUG was highly appreciated by patients and/or their parents and this motivates its permanent conduct.


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