Each type of childhood cancer requires a different type of treatment, which in turn, means various possible side effects. Thankfully within the last 30 years, treatments, support, and after treatment care have improved. These enhanced therapies and treatments have significantly improved the survival rate of children with cancer! However those same treatments also damage healthy tissues and cells, creating harmful side effects. Generally side effects go away in time after treatments are done, however there are side effects that show up months or even years later which are called late effects.
Late Effects of Childhood Cancer Causes
Despite the advancements in cancer treatments over the years, cancer treatments generally still cause long term and late effects. However, the risk of a late effect developing is dependent on your child’s specific situation such as
- The type of cancer
- The area of the body treated
- The type and dose of treatment
- The child’s age when treated for cancer
- Genetics and family history
- Overall health
- Any existing health problems before the cancer diagnosis
With all these different factors coming into play, it’s important to have a discussion with your child’s health care team. As each situation is different, your doctors can help you understand the types of late effects your child may develop. As well as what steps you can take in order to catch early developments of late effect symptoms. There are several types of late effects that can develop depending on the area and amount of treatment.
Potential Late Effects of Childhood Cancer
- Emotional Stress
- Second Cancers – a different type of cancer that develops after treatment
- Growth, Development, and Fertility Problems
- Learning and Memory Trouble
- Heart Complications
- Lung Development and Breathing Difficulties
- Digestive System Problems
- Dental Issues – children who have yet to develop their adult teeth are more susceptible to developmental problems
- Hearing and Vision Issues
Typically, children who develop cancer at a younger age are more susceptible to complications from treatment. While some side and late effects will affect the quality of life, there are several others that can be fatal if not caught in time. Not all late effects display early symptoms. Which is why your child’s survivorship care plan with follow-up exams are so incredibly vital. From helping children get resources they need to communicate effectively or discuss heart-healthy activities. Your child’s special team of doctors are there to help catch signs of cancer in addition to any developments of side or late effects. For several years after cancer treatment, the treatment summary, survivorship care plan, and routine exams will help you and your child be prepared against possible late effects. Specific information about your child’s treatments is important. So throughout your child’s treatments, ask questions and discuss with your doctor the risks your child might be susceptible to in the future.
Raising Awareness with Syndi Smiles
At Syndi Smiles, we know the battle isn’t over once the cancer is gone. We strive to spread awareness of childhood cancer survivors and the battles they face in life after cancer. Next month we will go into more detail about the different types of the types of late effects and their relation to the treatment areas. So check back in for more information later!