Astrocytoma - Childhood: Coping with Treatment

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn more about coping with the physical, emotional, social, and financial effects of astrocytoma and its treatment. This page includes several links outside of this guide to other sections of this website. To see other pages, use the menu.

Every treatment for astrocytoma can cause side effects or changes to your child’s body and how he or she feels. For many reasons, children don’t experience the same side effects even when given the same treatment. This can make it hard to predict how your child will feel during treatment.

As your child prepares to start treatment, it is normal to fear treatment-related side effects. It may help to know that your child’s health care team will work to prevent and relieve side effects. Doctors call this part of treatment “palliative care.” It is an important part of your child’s treatment plan, regardless of his or her age or the stage of disease.

Coping with physical side effects

Common physical side effects from each treatment option for astrocytoma are described within the Treatment Options section. Learn more about side effects of astrocytoma and its treatment, along with ways to prevent or control them. Changes to your child’s physical health depend on several factors, including the tumor’s stage and grade, the length and dose of treatment, and your child’s general health.

Sometimes, physical side effects can last after treatment ends. Doctors call these long-term side effects. They call side effects that occur months or years after treatment late effects. Treating long-term side effects and late effects is an important part of survivorship care. Learn more by reading the Follow-up Care section of this guide or talking with your child’s doctor.

Coping with emotional and social effects

Your child can have emotional and social effects as well as physical effects after a diagnosis of astrocytoma. This may include dealing with difficult emotions, such as anxiety or anger, or managing stress. Sometimes, children have problems expressing how they feel.

Children and their families are encouraged to share their feelings with a member of the health care team. You can also find coping strategies for emotional and social effects in a separate section of this website. This section includes many resources for finding support and information to meet your needs.

Coping with financial effects

Treatment for astrocytoma can be expensive. It is often a big source of stress and anxiety for families. In addition to treatment costs, many people find they have extra, unplanned expenses related to their child’s care. Learn more about managing financial considerations, in a separate part of this website.

Caring for a child with astrocytoma

Family members and friends often play an important role in taking care of a child with astrocytoma. This is called being a caregiver. As a parent or guardian, you are the primary caregiver for your child. However, friends and family can give you valuable support, even if they live far away.

When your child has astrocytoma, you may have an additional range of responsibilities. These may include giving medications or managing symptoms and side effects. However, it is important to seek help from others. Below are some of the responsibilities your family or friends could help with:

  • Providing short-term care for your child

  • Giving support and encouragement

  • Assisting with meals or household chores

  • Helping with insurance and billing issues

Learn more about caregiving.

Talking with the health care team about side effects

Before starting treatment, talk with your child’s doctor about possible side effects. Ask:

  • Which side effects are most likely?

  • When are they are likely to happen?

  • What can we do to prevent or relieve them?

Be sure to tell your child’s health care team about any side effects that happen during treatment and afterward, too. Tell them even if you don’t think the side effects are serious. This discussion should include physical, emotional, and social effects.

Also, ask how much care your child may need at home and with daily tasks during and after treatment. This can help you make a caregiving plan.

The next section in this guide is Follow-up Care. It explains the importance of check-ups after treatment for astrocytoma is finished. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.