“There’s one thing I wish every former childhood cancer patient: good health”
Christina Schindera, MD, scientist in the Paediatric Cancer Epidemiology Group at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, and paediatric oncologist at the University Children’s Hospital Basel.
“After studying medicine and training as a paediatrician, I specialised in the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer and became a paediatric oncologist. I found the stories of the young patients with their life-threatening illnesses extremely touching and I found it very rewarding to be able to accompany the affected children and their families through the difficult times of the illness. In the process, I experienced so many wonderful and positive moments, not only but also because most of the children and adolescents with cancer could be cured. But at the time I wasn’t really aware that the great chances of recovery could also entail risks. The intensive cancer therapies unfortunately often lead to a wide variety of late effects, including heart disease, for example. Without the appropriate check-ups, these can go undetected for a long time, appear very suddenly and thus threaten an adult’s life a second time.”
“Being able to do research in this area has literally become something close to my heart. For some years now, we have been examining former childhood cancer patients for heart problems as part of specialised consultations. In addition to the various medical examinations, we talk to the patients and document their health status. The results vary considerably. While some patients only suffer from complaints such as high blood pressure, others have already had a heart attack. And others have heart disease they didn’t know about until we find it. Fortunately, lots of former childhood cancer patients are also completely healthy. There’s one thing I wish every former childhood cancer patient: good health. To get closer to this goal, we want to use a research study to find out whether any patients are at risk and how new examination techniques can be used to make an early diagnosis. This is the only way we can ensure timely treatment and thus the health of patients.”