Dr Lillian Sung

The Hospital for Sick Children

Dr Lillian Sung
Improving supportive care for children with cancer

Dr Lillian Sung's research focuses on supportive care for children with cancer, with an emphasis on preventing and treating side effects of therapy. She also specializes in the area of implementation sciences and the development of clinical practice guidelines.

Dr Sung is a staff physician at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and a professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is widely recognized as a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, hematology and clinical investigation. Dr Sung also built upon her clinical background by completing a PhD in clinical epidemiology at the University of Toronto. As a young investigator making outstanding contributions to cancer control, Dr Sung was awarded the Society’s William E. Rawls Prize in 2009.

One of Dr Sung’s major research interests lies in preventing infectious complications of cancer, which can be serious or even fatal. With support from the Canadian Cancer Society, Dr Sung led a clinical trial to analyze whether features in the DNA of children with blood cancer can predict who is most susceptible to infection. She and her team also convened an expert group to produce clinical practice guidelines for the management of dangerous side effects of chemotherapy that can weaken children’s ability to fight off bacterial infections. Published in 2012, these guidelines have been endorsed internationally.

Dr Sung has also explored differences in the desires of parents of children with cancer and healthcare providers with respect to end-of-life care, with the goal of improving shared decision-making. She is now studying how children experience symptoms related to cancer and its treatment using an iPad-based questionnaire tool. This could improve both symptom monitoring and management in children with cancer by making it easy for children to communicate how they feel.

By revealing how to best support children with cancer, their parents and their healthcare providers, researchers like Dr Sung can ultimately improve children’s quality of life.