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Baylor College of Medicine News

Grant expands program for pediatric cancer survivors

Passport for Care, an innovative, web-based program that guides health care for pediatric cancer survivors, soon will be reaching patients throughout the state of Texas.

Dr. David Poplack, professor of pediatric oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Texas Children's Cancer Center and a developer of Passport For Care, received a $953,000 grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Initiative of Texas that will expand the program to 12 treatment centers in Texas, including in Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and north Texas.

Launched in October 2008, the program is currently used at Texas Children's Hospital's Cancer Center. To date, more than 1,000 patients have been enrolled.

A check was presented to Poplack by CPRIT board chair Jimmy Mansour at the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic, one of the centers where the program will be implemented.

Texas first to implement

"We're looking forward to significantly expanding the use of the Passport for Care to improve the health of pediatric cancer survivors everywhere. Texas will be the first state in which it will be implemented on a comprehensive basis," Poplack said.

"We are pleased to show our support for Passport for Care," Mansour said. "Texas has approximately 30,000 childhood cancer survivors, and CPRIT is dedicated to improving the quality of their lives."

Research component

The CPRIT grant also includes a research component. A series of studies will be conducted to learn whether the use of Passport for Care at these cancer centers will increase the quality of information that survivors receive.

"We'll learn a lot about the current standard of care and follow-up information survivors are getting, and we'll learn a lot about how the implementation of Passport for Care improves that," said Poplack, who is also deputy director of BCM's Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center.

More than 75 percent of pediatric cancer patients are cured; however many have late effects of their treatment than can be serious or even life-threatening. In addition, many survivors are not receiving care from physicians with knowledge about cancer survivor treatment.

"Passport for Care provides the physician with a detailed summary of the survivor's treatment and individualized guidelines for their follow-up screening. It essentially makes every physician a survivor expert," Poplack said.

Along with Poplack, Passport for Care was developed by Dr. Marc Horowitz, professor of pediatrics – hematology-oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Michael Fordis, director of BCM's Center for Collaborative and Interactive Technologies.