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After treatment for ependymoma 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, including ependymoma, should have life-long, follow-up care.
Follow-up care recommendations are specific to each child, because there are many factors that can affect a child’s recovery from ependymoma, such as tumor location, how much of the tumor could be removed during surgery, the need for and type of treatment after surgery, and the child’s age at the time of treatment.
The needs of a child recovering from ependymoma should be closely monitored on an ongoing basis by the health care team. Some children may need a combination of rehabilitative services, including physical therapy and occupational therapy (for nervous system side effects from the tumor or its treatment), speech therapy, hearing assistance, and cognitive (thought-process) therapy; learn more about rehabilitation. Some children may need a tracheostomy (a surgical opening in the windpipe to help them breathe) and/or gastrostomy (a surgical opening into the stomach where a feeding tube is inserted) after surgery. Others may develop hormonal problems or other new problems if the tumor recurs.
MRI scans are often recommended to watch for signs that the tumor is growing or has come back. Because most tumors that recur do so during the first several years after diagnosis, scans are performed most often during the first two to three years after treatment, and less often thereafter. However, because a tumor can recur many years after initial treatment, long-term follow-up care of all children who had an ependymoma is extremely important.
Based on the type of treatment the child received, the doctor will determine what examination 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 the 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. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship.
Find out more about common terms used after cancer treatment is complete.