Jacqueline Loonen (Paediatric Oncology; photo) was awarded a KWF grant (€423,800) in collaboration with Hans Knoop (Medical psychology) and Eline van Dulmen-Den (VUmc Amsterdam) for a project entitled: 'Cancer Related Fatigue in Childhood Cancer Survivors: a DCOG-LATER study'.
Growing up during and after treatment for childhood cancer is a challenge for all children. They have to face an intensive treatment and deal with changes in their daily life which may continue throughout adulthood. In addition, surviving childhood cancer does not end with completion of treatment. Therefore children and adolescents should be monitored from the beginning of treatment onwards, and children at risk for problems should be identified as early as possible.
As health care providers involved in their treatment we have the obligation to study the price of treatment and apply appropriate interventions. In addition, we should contribute to the best of our ability, to future treatment protocols with less late effects and an improved quality of life without compromising survival rates. The current project will help to identify which patients are at risk for cancer related fatigue (CRF) later on in life.
CRF is a debilitating symptom in many cancer survivors. As most studies on CRF focused on survivors of cancer in adulthood knowledge of CRF in childhood cancer survivors (CCS) is limited. Both, the types of childhood cancer and the modalities used to treat them, are different from those in the adults. As a consequence, risk factors for the development of late effects such as CRF, might be different.
The proposed study will contribute to the understanding of CRF in CCS. It will provide information about the prevalence, severity and risk factors of CRF in CCS and the impact on quality of life (QoL) as well as about possible etiologic factors of CRF. We will especially focus on risk factors that can be influenced by interventions. This study concerns research into an aspect of quality of life. The study will inform about subgroups of CCS at risk for CRF, aiding the development of appropriate interventions. Recognition of high risk groups enables early referral for treatment of CRF which will improve quality of life. As CRF is a multidimensional symptom, distinguishing risk factors in predisposing, triggering (precipitating) and maintaining (perpetuating) factors might increase the understanding of the interrelationships among the various cancer and treatment related late effects, and thus determine whether there are CRF subtypes
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