Survivors Taking Action and Responsibility (STAR) Program
The Survivors Taking Action and Responsibility (STAR) Program provides risk-based care using national and international survivorship guidelines for childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant survivors. Our program also participates in research to contribute to ongoing improvements in survivorship care and the quality of life of survivors.
Over 85% of children diagnosed with cancer can expect to be cured, due to innovations in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and stem cell transplant, as well as increased understanding of the biology of cancer. Pediatric cancer treatments can create persisting side effects, becoming what are known as “late effects.” The STAR Program addresses late effects of pediatric cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant treatment in children and young adults.
Patients are referred to the STAR program five years after a cancer diagnosis if they are in full clinical remission, or two years following hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Patients are seen annually. We currently see over 550 patients each year.
The Lurie Children’s Difference
Our program’s goal is to assist and empower survivors to grow and develop into adulthood, have a voice, live to their full potential and contribute to society. We provide continued monitoring and care for the effects of childhood cancer and its treatments, and help further the research regarding this patient group. Our organized, systematic and comprehensive follow-up program addresses both the physiologic and psychosocial effects of cancer treatment.
Survivors are cared for in the STAR Program through age 25 and are gradually transitioned to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University for continued care and monitoring. Our collaborative relationship with the Lurie Cancer Center ensures a smooth transition between the two teams when the patient is ready to move to adult care.
What to Expect
During their visit, patients meet with an advanced practice nurse and a physician for a comprehensive physical exam and psychosocial evaluation. The healthcare staff provides a summary of prior treatments and evaluations, screening, education, and counseling about possible late effects due to prior therapies.
The STAR program consults with other specialists as needed to provide your child with the best care to address any complications from treatment, including:
Impaired growth or development
Reduced bone density
In an effort to provide complete care, our program offers a comprehensive clinic staffed by the STAR advanced practice nurse and physician, a cardiologist, an immunologist and an endocrinologist. The clinic allows patients to achieve all necessary evaluations and ancillary testing in one visit. With this approach, each individual survivor’s history is reviewed together by all medical providers to deliver an optimal personalized treatment plan.
Our multidisciplinary team includes:
Jennifer Reichek, MD, MSW, director of the STAR program, is the physician seeing patients in the STAR Program. Dr. Reichek also directs the active research initiative. She is an active participant in the Solid Tumor Program and heads the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program at Lurie Children’s.
Karina Danner-Koptik, RN, MSN, APRN-CNS, holds the program’s nursing responsibilities for patient evaluations, patient education and research. She provides expertise in instructing colleagues across the nation in survivorship issues. Karina is an active participant in the STAR Program’s research initiatives.
Our clinical office assistant, coordinates the STAR program schedules and appointments.
Other disciplines that work within the STAR team include immunology, cardiology, endocrinology and neuropsychology.
The STAR Program’s clinic takes place regularly at Lurie Children’s Main Hospital. A monthly clinic is also held at Lurie Children's Outpatient Center in Arlington Heights to better serve our patients and families who live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Appointments are scheduled three months in advance by the program’s clinical office assistant. Please call 312.227.4004 to make an appointment in the STAR clinic.
The STAR Program is committed to the ongoing development of and participation in research to improve the quality of life for long-term survivors of childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant. We are active members of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and participate in many studies through this international organization. We also participate in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), a national study examining long term effects in survivors of childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
The STAR team frequently presents research at a variety of national and international meetings, including:
American Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nursing Meeting