September 30, 2011 5:43 AM
Pediatric oncologist Dr. Tammuella Singleton will launch a new Tulane University clinic to study the long-term effects of cancer treatment on childhood cancer survivors, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program.
The clinic, which is slated to open in December, will follow Tulane Hospital for Children oncology patients well into adulthood to collect data on how the treatments that knocked their cancers into remission may have an impact later in life.
The study will venture into “uncharted territory,” says Singleton, who notes that the opportunity to do this research was created by tremendous advances in cancer treatment. In the last 40 years, the overall survival rate for children’s cancer has increased from 10 percent to 78 percent.
“We have years and years of data in how to treat these kids for cancer. We know what works and what doesn’t,” says Singleton, who holds the Marcelle Schaefer Vergara Chair in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “But we don’t have any type of data on what these patients will face over the long haul. We hope clinics like ours will help create a standardized system of care.”
The clinic will coordinate its research with the Children’s Oncology Group, a national association of institutes dedicated to research in pediatric oncology. The group has published guidelines to assist in the establishment of screening recommendations associated with the late effects in childhood cancer, Singleton says.
Researchers are particularly interested in any increased susceptibility to learning challenges, psycho-social issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a higher risk of secondary cancer.
“Pediatric cancer survivors represent a relatively small but growing population at high risk for various therapy-related complications,” Singleton says.
Singleton’s grant is the second major gift Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels has given Tulane. In June, the program awarded Dr. Julie Kanter $40,000 for her research of neurological function and recovery among children who have battled brain cancer.
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