Cancer survivorship is on the rise -- patients are living longer post-treatment. And even though that is a wonderful thing, we do need to be mindful of one survivorship group in particular: children.
"Because of advances in treatment, about 8 out of 10 children treated for cancer survive at least 5 years, and most of these children are cured," the American Cancer Society says. Again, that is an awesome thing! However, these survivors are also at risk for developing late effects -- side effects that manifest shortly after (or even years after) the child ends treatment.
Late effects include:
- Problems with memory and attention
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Slowed development over time
- Eye issues
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble hearing words when background noise levels are high
- Muscle and bone issues
- Sexual development and fertility issues
Obviously, tumor type, size, and location decide the type, location, and duration of treatment. These are factors in the development of late effects.
As children survivors age, it is imperative that all oncology nurses be aware of late effects, because the children may be young adults when they begin to happen. Patients may not connect the late effect to their childhood diagnosis and treatment.
To read more in-depth coverage of late effects, check out this page on the American Cancer Society Website.