Survival rates after childhood cancer now reach nearly 80% in developed European countries as a result of more effective therapies and better supportive care, leading to a steady increase in the number of survivors in the population. However, the treatments that have improved survival are harsh and cause serious side-effects that can greatly impact survivors’ quality of life in the long term. The goal of the EU-funded PanCareLIFE project (Grant Agreement 602030) was that survivors of cancer diagnosed before age 25 should enjoy the same quality of life and opportunities as their peers who have not had cancer. Using observational studies and molecular genetic investigations PanCareLIFE investigated late effects that impact fertility and hearing impairment (ototoxicity), and will assess health-related quality of life.

As the number of survivors with late effects in any one country is small, large cohorts are required for accurate estimation of risk. PanCareLIFE assembled a team of prominent investigators from across Europe who contributed over 14,000 well-characterised research subjects to identify risk factors, both genetic and non-genetic, linked to decrements in fertility and ototoxicity. Quality-of-life studies evaluated the impact of fertility and ototoxicity. PanCareLIFE advanced the state-of-the-art in survivorship studies by evaluation of large cohorts with observational and genetic tools that will provide better knowledge of individual risk factors. This type of information will make it possible in future to stratify survivors into groups for more personalised, evidence-based care, and plans for a seamless transition to long-term follow-up care can be made. These approaches will result in better quality of life for survivors of cancer diagnosed at a young age.