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In the News: Cancer Survivors, COVID-19, Oncologist Awards, Genetics, Exercise
Kicking off this week's news roundup are studies about follow-up care in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, and about the severity of COVID-19 in children. Read on to learn who at CHOP was recognized for their contributions to pediatric oncology. Finish up with studies about cancer mutations and the effect of the pandemic on exercise performance in children and young adults.
Pilot Study to Evaluate Follow-up Care in Young Cancer Survivors
With funding from the Children's Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), Lisa A Schwartz, PhD, psychologist at CHOP, will lead a pilot study to examine why adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors disengage from follow-up care, and she aims to develop interventions to target the reasons. More than half of adult survivors of childhood cancer are "lost to follow up," according to a CCRF article, which means that they don't receive annual follow-up care. Follow-up care is important to monitor for relapses and help manage long-term side effects.
"Childhood cancer has a happy ending most of the time, but it leaves a whole other chapter in somebody's life that presents a challenge, that is the need for continued multidisciplinary follow-up care," Dr. Schwartz said in the CCRF article. "We want to be able to target survivors early and use it as a teachable moment to say, 'This is something you have to do every year for the rest of your life.'"
Learn more about the study in the CCRF article.
Study Elucidates Information about COVID-19 Severity in Children
Researchers led by Christopher B. Forrest, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Applied Clinical Research at CHOP, published findings in the journal Pediatrics highlighting the severity of acute COVID-19 in children from March 2020 to December 2021. They identified children with a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 using electronic health record data from nine health systems. They found that the odds of children having moderate-to-severe illness was highest in June 2021, and lower in July to December 2021, when the delta variant predominated. The findings indicated that the risk of severe disease in children did not change with the emergence of the delta variant.
"Children are at risk for acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection, and although most cases are mild, about 1 in 16 will contract moderate or severe illness that may require hospitalization or require intensive care, mechanical ventilation, and/or treatment with antiviral medications," the researchers wrote. "Our data provide no evidence for an increased risk of severe COVID-19 associated with the delta variant, which predominated in the United States beginning July 2021. Additional observation is needed to evaluate the effect of the omicron variant on illness severity."
Two CHOP Oncologists Recognized for Contributions to Pediatric Oncology
Sogol Mostoufi-Moab, MD, MSCE, and Yael P. Mossé, MD, both attending physicians in the Division of Oncology, were recognized at the 2022 American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Annual Meeting for their contributions to the field of pediatric oncology.
Dr. Mostoufi-Moab received the Northwestern Mutual Award for Excellence in Childhood Cancer Survivorship, which recognized her efforts to help pediatric cancer survivors live full and healthy lives. Dr. Mostoufi-Moab is dual-certified in pediatric oncology and endocrinology, with a focus on the late effects of childhood cancer therapy. She is the Richard and Sheila Sanford Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology at CHOP.
Dr. Mossé received the Frank A. Oski Memorial Lectureship, recognizing her work in neuroblastoma. In Dr. Mossé's lab, her team has made substantial contributions to knowledge of the hereditary predisposition and progression of neuroblastoma. Specifically, they discovered gene mutations that are the culprit behind inherited neuroblastoma and play a role in a high-risk form of the non-inherited form of the disease.
New Computational Tool Interprets Clinical Significance of Cancer Mutations
A new computational called CancerVar may help researchers interpret clinical significance of mutations in cancer. The tool, developed by researchers at CHOP, uses machine learning to interpret the significance of somatic cancer mutations in terms of cancer diagnosis, prognosis and targetability. The researchers described CancerVar in a paper that appeared in Science Advances.
"CancerVar will not replace human interpretation in a clinical setting, but it will significantly reduce the manual work of human reviewers in classifying variants identified through sequencing and drafting clinical reports in the practice of precision oncology," said Kai Wang, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at CHOP and senior author of the paper. "CancerVar documents and harmonizes various types of clinical evidence including drug information, publications, and pathways for somatic mutations in detail. By providing standardized, reproducible, and precise output for interpreting somatic variants, CancerVar can help researchers and clinicians prioritize mutations of concern."
Learn more about CancerVar in the CHOP press release.
Exercise Performance in Children and Young Adults Declined During Pandemic
Researchers in the Cardiac Center at CHOP found that children and young adults experienced a decline in cardiopulmonary exercise performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decline in aerobic activity was most pronounced in those who had the highest exercise performance before the pandemic began. The study appeared in Pediatric Cardiology.
The researchers analyzed data from 122 patients between the ages of 6 to 22 years who had a serial cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) at CHOP before the pandemic, and at least one test during the pandemic. Both males and females in the study experienced a BMI increase and a significant decrease in aerobic capacity, even after accounting for growth between stress tests. The researchers observed the greatest decrease in exercise performance among those most aerobically fit pre-pandemic.
"Our study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decrease in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behavior by children and young adults, which in turn led to a decrease in cardiopulmonary exercise performance," said Julie Brothers, MD, a cardiologist in the Cardiac Center and director of the Lipid Heart Clinic. "Although sports activities and in-person schooling have largely resumed, future studies should examine if exercise performance has returned to pre-pandemic values."
Read more about the study in the CHOP press release.
Catch up on our headlines from our April 29 In the News:
- Kathryn Hamilton, PhD, Received APS New Investigator Award
- Does Exercise Help Patients With Primary Mitochondrial Disease?
- Safe Novice Drivers Start With Policy, Education, and Training
- How Structural Racism and Pandemic Stressors Affect Mental Health Among Black Individuals
- RI Launches New CHOP Cardiovascular Institute
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