The first International Cancer Survivor Symposium

Fast-evolving treatment options and technologies continue to advance survival in children, adolescents, and young adults diagnosed with cancer. This year, the first International Cancer Survivors Symposium was successfully held online and welcomed almost 200 participants worldwide on the February 3rd, 2022, in Bern. The symposium was organized jointly by the University Cancer Center Inselspital (UCI), the Department of General Internal Medicine, the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (all at the Inselspital, Bern), the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, and the Department of Health Sciences and Medicine, University of Lucerne. Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Kuehni from the Childhood Cancer Registry at the ISPM Bern was part of the organizing committee that made this event possible.

In a constructive, innovative and open atmosphere, cancer survivors, researchers, and health-care providers from various disciplines discussed together the latest developments and challenges of care for cancer survivors. In 4 keynote speeches and 24 short presentations, the late effects of cancer and the aftercare of people affected by cancer as children or adolescents were examined and discussed from very different perspectives.

Summary of the most relevant findings:

  • Cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing chronic diseases as a result of their cancer or therapy. Follow-up care for these individuals must always be individualized, based on the treatment given and the risk of late effects.
  • The extent to which people suffer from the consequences of their therapy after cancer in childhood or adolescence depends on the type of therapy, but also on genetic predisposition and lifestyle. The ageing process is clearly accelerated in cancer survivors. They have to adapt their lifestyle accordingly and it is important that, within the framework of evidence-based follow-up, the treatable late effects are recorded at an early stage on the basis of the therapy-induced risk.
  • Many affected people suffer from exhaustion and fatigue after cancer therapy, although the causes are still not fully understood. Here, too, a person-centred, individual intervention based on international guidelines is recommended.
  • The risk of being infertile after cancer therapy is around 30% for women, depending on age and the type of chemotherapy or dose of radiotherapy. Shockingly few cancer survivors receive adequate counselling, although there are numerous methods for preserving fertility, whose chances of success are around 35% for women and around 50% for men. The indications for fertility-preserving measures must be sharpened in the future.

Watch Key Lectures here:

The keynote lectures of the first International Cancer Survivor Symposium were recorded and can be viewed on the website of UCI – University Cancer Center Inselspital or on Youtube.

Follow-up care

Prof. Melissa Hudson vom St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA


Dr. Jacqueline Loonen vom Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Niederlande

Late effects and chronic disease after treatment for childhood and AYA cancer

Prof. Melissa Hudson vom St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA


Prof. Michael Von Wolff von der Frauenklinik am Inselspital, Universitätsspital Bern