Monika Leja, M.D., and Laurence Baker, D.O., lead the U-M Sarcoma Survivorship Clinic.

After the fact

New Sarcoma Survivorship Clinic addresses late effects of treatment

issue 23 | spring 2015

The majority of patients diagnosed with sarcoma will be cured of their disease and live cancer-free. But as they age, these patients — who are diagnosed as children, teens or young adults — are at great risk of developing a severe or life-threatening chronic medical condition related to their sarcoma treatment.

A first-of-its-kind clinic at the University of Michigan Health System puts medical oncologist Laurence Baker, D.O., and cardio-oncologist Monika Leja, M.D., side by side to help sarcoma survivors. In addition, the multidisciplinary clinic includes specialists in kidney disease, endocrinology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and psychiatry to help manage the conditions most often seen in sarcoma survivors.

Chemotherapy and radiation put sarcoma survivors at risk for developing lifelong chronic or life-threatening illnesses including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Lipid disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental health problems
  • Sarcoma recurrence
  • New cancers

Many of these conditions are issues more commonly seen in older adults and, as a result, are often overlooked in sarcoma survivors. The clinic emphasizes early detection with a focus on standard interventions to prevent or treat these conditions. Survivors receive a personalized plan with recommendations for further treatment if necessary and a program of follow-up visits.

The clinic is open to bone sarcoma and soft tissue sarcoma survivors 18 and older who have been off all therapy for at least two years. Patients are eligible even if they received their sarcoma treatment outside of the University of Michigan.