City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center has established a new Department of Population Sciences. Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., chairs the department, which focuses on understanding the origins of cancer, as well as research to better comprehend long-term outcomes of treatment.
As the department becomes established, a major portion of research will delve into issues related to survivorship, according to Bhatia. These include developing and evaluating approaches for detecting and preventing long-term aftereffects of treatment, understanding the impact of therapy on quality of life, and developing methods to improve quality of life and symptom management.
Currently, researchers are investigating outcomes within a variety of treatment arenas. Collaborating with the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, investigators are studying adverse events occurring among bone marrow transplantation survivors. Studies done in cooperation with the Children’s Oncology Group are focusing on childhood cancer survivorship, including differences in survival among patients with varying ethnic backgrounds.
"One of our major accomplishments has been the development of national guidelines for follow-up of childhood cancer survivors," said Bhatia. "This has been accomplished within the setting of the Children’s Oncology Group, and Wendy Landier at City of Hope and Melissa Hudson at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have played lead roles in their development." Landier is a pediatric nurse practitioner; Hudson is a hematologic oncologist and director of the After Completion of Therapy Clinic at St. Jude’s.
In step with this, the new department will create a Center for Cancer Survivorship, which will include a multidisciplinary survivorship clinic for childhood cancer survivors. This clinic will provide comprehensive follow-up care to cancer survivors and serve as a resource for future research of cancer survivor populations.
"Potentially, the clinic will serve as a paradigm for similar clinics in other programs on campus, as well as nationwide," said Bhatia.
The Center for Cancer Survivorship also will be a resource for studies involving genetic cancer risk assessment, quality-of-life assessment, chemoprevention and cancer intervention. Professional health care training, including a Postgraduate Fellowship in Cancer Survivorship for clinicians, as well as specialized support services for cancer survivors, also fall under the center’s purview.
The new department comprises 11 faculty and 52 staff members within the divisions of Cancer Etiology, Outcomes Research & Intervention, Behavioral Oncology, Nursing Research & Education and Clinical Cancer Genetics. Research Survey, Long-term Follow-up and Biological Specimen Repository constitute the available core programs.
Current funding within the department consists of more than $4.5 million in grant awards, including nearly $3.2 million from the National Cancer Institute.