Is an ounce of prevention really worth more than a pound of cure? That is a question City of Hope’s Saro Armenian, D.O., M.P.H., hopes to answer in his study on heart disease in survivors of childhood cancer, with support from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
“Cardiovascular diseases are the second most common complication among childhood cancer survivors, since chemotherapy and radiation to the chest may have long-term effects on heart muscle, valves and arteries,” said Armenian, assistant professor in the Department of Population Sciences.
“While it is important to screen for and treat these complications before they become serious,” he noted, “there is little evidence on when and how often these screenings should take place.”
|A foundation started by cyclist Lance Armstrong, shown here at City of Hope in 2005, supports survivorship research. (Photo by Markie Ramirez)|
Long-term follow-up guidelines from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) — a nationwide cooperative of leading pediatric cancer experts — suggest that doctors conduct specialized cardiovascular health tests on childhood cancer survivors every one to five years, depending on their age and intensity of their treatment. But with tests such as echocardiograms costing more than $1,000 per session, it is important to ensure that screening schedules make both medical and financial sense.
Through the support of a two-year, $110,000 grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Armenian and his team will develop a mathematical model to review COG cardiovascular follow-up guidelines and determine the most cost-effective approach.
“We hope the results of this study will be useful in the next revision of the follow-up guidelines,” Armenian said. “And if this approach works, the model can be used to analyze screening recommendations for other conditions, as well.”
For additional information on childhood cancer survivorship and follow-up guidelines, please visit the COG Web site at www.survivorshipguidelines.org. More information on City of Hope’s survivorship programs is available at www.cityofhope.org/survivorship.