Young cancer survivors can have physical and emotional problems as adults from cancer treatments. Screening can help them be healthy adults.
By 2016, there were 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. — and over 400,000 of them were first diagnosed with a malignancy as children or teenagers. The good news about childhood cancer is more youngsters survive cancer than ever before, thanks to advances in cancer treatment.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) notes over 80 percent of youngsters with childhood cancers are alive five years after diagnosis, and many go on to be declared cured of their disease. However, as childhood cancer survivors grow older and become adults, being cancer-free doesn’t mean they don’t need extra care, according to the NCI.
Health problems can arise after cancer therapy is finished, due to late effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer therapies. In fact, childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of developing physical and emotional difficulties over the years, long after their bout with cancer is a distant memory. But regular screenings and information on red flags indicating a check-up is in order can help protect their health.
Pediatric oncologist Smita Dandekar, MD, recommends young cancer survivors have an annual visit with a team of healthcare specialists (including an oncologist, neuropsychologist, social worker, and genetic counselor) at least five years after a cancer diagnosis and two years after their therapy was completed. Dandekar, who helps lead this team approach at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, explains childhood cancer survivors need to learn, as they grow older, what kind of screenings they may need and what resources are available.
March 30, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA