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Insufficient Screening for Childhood Cancer Survivors

A survey of oncologists reveals that few are aware of surveillance recommendations.

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in early June 2010, a poster was presented that described the results of oncologists' knowledge of surveillance recommendations for childhood cancer survivors. The principal investigator, Dr. Tara Henderson of the University of Chicago, mailed surveys to 1,249 medical oncologists in the USA who had been systematically selected from the 2009 ASCO directory. Of the 497 surveys that were returned, 47% were from physicians in private practice, 32% from physicians in academic medical centers, and 17% were from physicians working in cancer centers. The median time in clinical practice was almost 20 years, so the physicians who responded were not new to oncology. The physicians were asked three questions about surveillance recommendations, based on Children's Oncology Group (COG) guidelines. Most of the physicians responding (85%) did not appropriately recommend cardiac surveillance, 55% did not appropriately recommend yearly thyroid surveillance, 45% did not appropriately recommend yearly breast cancer surveillance, and only 5% answered all three questions appropriately.

Education of oncologists about long-term care of childhood cancer survivors is needed, and hopefully the results of this survey will raise oncologists' awareness of gaps in knowledge and encourage them to learn more about this important area of practice.