Published date: June 28, 2022
The THRIVE clinic opened in July 2021 to guide survivors of childhood cancer and their families through the challenges of survivorship. Our multidisciplinary team provides tools and support to help survivors throughout Arkansas and the surrounding area live their best lives.
“Previously, we saw these patients during regular oncology clinics, which didn’t allow as much time to devote to issues that arise when treatment ends,” said Suzanne Saccente, M.D., medical director of the THRIVE clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “The goal of the THRIVE clinic is to provide coordinated, comprehensive follow-up care. We’re focused on treating any late effects and optimizing health, so patients have the best outcomes as they get older.”
Often, late effects of cancer treatment include more than physical side effects. Mental health concerns, social challenges and learning difficulties are common.
"Regular oncology visits largely focus on the disease and making sure the cancer hasn't relapsed," said Amy Harrison, R.N., C.P.H.O.N., specialty nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital. "The THRIVE clinic allows us to go beyond the disease and focus more on psychosocial side effects."
Our clinicians answer some frequently asked questions about the THRIVE clinic.
The THRIVE clinic creates a support system that helps patients and families navigate any late effects of cancer for up to 10 years after treatment ends. When patients transition to adult care, they will continue to have access to their treatment records and care recommendations through the Passport for Care website. The information on the site can be printed and given to other providers outside of our system at any time. Additionally, because the recommendations are based on the Children's Oncology Group guidelines, they will continue to be automatically updated as guidelines change. For example, certain cancer treatments might have long-term cardiovascular effects that require regular cardiac testing. Patients can print out this information at any age and share it with physicians who may be unaware of the current recommendations for childhood cancer survivors.
The clinic is open to all patients three years out from treatment or a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow transplant patients must be off immunosuppressive therapy.
We follow the guidance of the Children's Oncology Group, a clinical trials organization supported by the National Cancer Institute, which means a child's diagnosis determines the frequency of visits. Most patients visit between one and four times a year. Extra visits can be scheduled if a patient has additional needs. For example, if a patient is having trouble adjusting at school, our psychologist can set up a visit for diagnostic testing and help develop a school plan that better serves the child.
Usually, patients begin with getting labs drawn and any necessary imaging. Then, parents and their children will meet with the specialty nurse, oncologist and psychologist. If necessary, additional physicians will also meet with the child during their visit. For example, a patient with cardiac issues will also see the cardiologist during their visit.
During the first visit, the specialty nurse will also set up the patient’s account in Passport for Care. This online tool gives childhood cancer survivors and their families easy access to their treatment summary and long-term follow-up care recommendations, which are based on the Children’s Oncology Group guidelines.
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