Childhood cancer survivors are still at risk even if they’ve been in remission for years. This is the drawback of pediatric cancer treatments. While it might effectively work to kill cancer cells, it also harms the patient’s healthy cells.
To date, it’s not yet possible to determine how a specific therapy for pediatric cancer can affect a child later in life. Nonetheless, studies have managed to find out the late effects patients might watch out for.
It Can Cause Stunted Growth
Growth disorders can stem from radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Hence, it’s possible a child who underwent any of these procedures might not grow beyond a height due to underdeveloped bones. Hence, a child could become susceptible to osteoporosis or scoliosis. This is common for children less than five years of age at the time of their cancer.
Likewise, the endocrine system can suffer from these types of treatments. The effect on the glands and hormones can derail a child’s natural growth and development.
It Can Cause Metabolic Problems
Issues with the metabolism can also happen and bring about hypothyroidism. This can occur if the radiation treatment was done to the neck or head. Hence, a child could experience weight gain, thin hair, dry skin, and have low energy.
It Can Weaken the Senses
Therapies like chemotherapy, radiation, and antibiotics can affect vision and hearing later in life. Eyesight problems can include double vision and susceptibility to glaucoma. Cataracts are also possible in cases when tumors treated with radiation are near the eye or the brain.
Ear problems to expect may include tinnitus or ringing in the ears. High-frequency hearing loss is also possible. This means the child won’t be able to hear any high-pitched sound.
It Can Increase Cancer Risk
Even after years of remission, any childhood cancer survivor may be at risk again. The possibility is affected by the type of treatment originally given. Their genetic disposition to cancer is another factor increasing the risk. However, the recurrence may or may not be the same cancer.
Early detection of any of the late effects of cancer therapy is helpful in its treatment. Thus, it’s best to discuss with your child’s doctor about the details of the treatment administered. At the same time, set up succeeding appointments to monitor your child’s health after remission. In doing so, you can keep a close watch on the progress of your child’s health all the way through adulthood.