HEROS Clinic: beating cancer for a lifetime
Health, Education, Research & Outcomes for Survivors of Childhood Cancer
Cure rates continue to rise for children with cancer. At Yale, we are determined that more and more children will survive. We are also determined that they thrive. So we are designing treatments that cause less discomfort to patients in the short term and fewer serious complications in the long term. Our HEROS clinic broke new ground when it became the first in the state to offer comprehensive guidance for adults and children who had survived pediatric cancer. Under the directorship of Dr. Nina Kadan-Lottick, our survivorship program has national prominence and is recognized as a model in which patients are monitored for recurrence of their original cancer, emergence of new cancer, and occurrence of long-term effects of therapy.
"We want to stress that the majority of patients do extremely well long-term. We don’t want to worry parents; rather, this clinic is focused on helping cancer survivors and their families take charge of their health and maximize their well-being."
– Dr. Nina Kadan-Lottick, Medical Director
The primary mission of the HEROS program is to provide outstanding, individualized care for childhood cancer survivors—those who were diagnosed with a cancer before reaching 21 years of age and who are now at least three years beyond diagnosis. The clinic focuses on screening and managing the potential long-term effects of childhood cancer treatment. A multi-disciplinary team cares for HEROS patients: a pediatric oncologist specially trained in survivor care, a pediatric endocrinologist, a neuropsychologist, a social worker, and a nurse.
The HEROS clinical evaluation includes:
- A comprehensive review of each patient’s medical history, medical records and treatment history
- Screening for learning and psychological functioning
- Diagnostic testing relevant to a patient’s unique healthcare needs
- A complete physical exam by a pediatric oncologist, including a complete evaluation of potential late effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplantation
- Advice and information about steps patients can take to remain healthy and pursue their life goals
- Survivors, as well as their families, come away from the clinic with a written summary and advice for the future, in an effort to minimize complications from their previous cancer care. All findings and recommendations will also be shared with the survivor’s oncologist and primary care physician. In general, major health insurance plans will cover this survivorship consultation, even when the patient is also seeing a primary health care physician or oncologist.
Because the cancer survivor experience is so important, patients at the HEROS Clinic may be invited to contribute to national research studies examining the quality of life in survivors of childhood cancer.