As treatments improve, more children with cancer are surviving into adulthood, however, they face many significant long-term complications to their health, which are poorly understood. Dr Defne Saatci will use UK-wide, linked databases to build a more comprehensive picture of these complications faced by childhood cancer survivors. Her research is funded under the Children with Cancer UK’s Clinical PhD Studentship scheme, which is provided to develop and support future leaders in clinical cancer research.
Investigating late effects of surviving childhood cancer
Dr Defne Saatci
University of Oxford
Oxford, OX2 6GG
5 October 2020
As treatments continue to improve, more children are outliving their cancer into adulthood. Unfortunately, surviving childhood cancer can come with significant long-term health and social complications, which are still poorly understood.
Previous studies have helped to identify several long-term health complications faced by childhood cancer survivors. These studies, however, have not been able to paint a complete picture in our understanding on a range of these complications, including the impact on mental health, fertility, and school performance. This is because these studies either only looked at a small number of children or are missing important details about the patient journey and more recent cancer treatments children receive. This means there is still a significant gap in our understanding of these late effects of childhood cancer. Therefore, there is a pressing need to understand why these long-term health complications arise and to develop appropriate clinical services and implement policy changes.
Dr Defne Saatci’s project aims to better understand these long-term health impacts of childhood cancer by conducting a detailed UK-wide population investigation to overcome the limitations of previous studies. She will be using QResearch Database, the largest national primary care database linked to several other key national databases, including Hospital Episode Statistics and the National Cancer Registry.
By taking advantage of these linked national databases, Dr Saatci and her team aim to build a more comprehensive picture of these long-term health impacts faced by childhood cancer survivors in the UK.
There is a need to understand why these long-term health complications arise in childhood cancer survivors. By using linked databases that are rich in detail, this study will offer a more comprehensive opportunity to understand long-term complications faced by childhood cancer survivors in the UK.
By exploring these health outcomes, Dr Saatci and her team can make a direct impact on future clinical service needs and help tailor healthcare policy to support the future health of childhood cancer survivors. For example, the results of this study could help to identify survivors who are at greater risk of health complications in order to provide them with preventative and long-term management strategies. Therefore, this research has the potential to significantly reduce the long-term health burden faced by childhood cancer survivors.
Children with Cancer UK’s Clinical PhD Studentships are provided to develop and support future leaders in clinical cancer research. Dr Defne Saatci completed her medical degree at the University of Cambridge before pursuing a master’s degree (MRes) in child health at University College London (UCL), where she focused on investigating the educational outcomes in survivors of childhood cancer. She has since worked as a Clinical Paediatric Speciality Trainee at Imperial College NHS Trust and as an Honorary Research Fellow at the UCL Great Ormond Street Hospital Institute of Child Health.
Dr Saatci will be supervised by a team led by Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and General Practice. Dr Saatci’s research will take place at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, where she will have access to an excellent in-house research training programme.