Childhood Cancer: After Treatment

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your child’s medical care after cancer treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for cancer ends, talk with your child’s doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your child’s recovery for the coming months and years. All children treated for cancer should have life-long, follow-up care.

Many of the current treatments that are effective in curing childhood cancer are associated with short-term and long-term side effects, including cognitive (thought-process) and developmental side effects. These side effects can appear or change as a child grows older. As most children with cancer are cured, the schedule of follow-up care is based on specific treatments given, such as the dosage and specific drugs used and/or the dosage of radiation therapy. Recommendations for follow-up care according to the risk of possible late effects of treatment have been developed by the Children’s Oncology Group and can be found at www.survivorshipguidelines.org.

Based on the type of treatment your child received, the doctor will determine what examinations and tests are needed to check for long-term side effects and the possibility of secondary cancers. Your child’s doctor can recommend the necessary screening tests. Follow-up care should also address your child’s quality of life, including any developmental or emotional concerns. Learn more about childhood cancer survivorship.

The child’s family is encouraged to organize and keep a record of the child’s medical information. That way, as the child enters adulthood, he or she has a clear, written history of the diagnosis, the treatment given, and the doctor’s recommendations about the schedule for follow-up care. The doctor’s office can help you create this. This information will be valuable to doctors who care for your child during his or her lifetime. ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment your child received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

Children who have had cancer can also enhance the quality of their future by following established guidelines for good health into and through adulthood, including not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity. Talk with the doctor about developing a plan that is best for your child’s needs. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.