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If you survived a childhood cancer, you may have unique risks now that you're an adult — such as an increased risk of other health conditions or a second cancer.
This past week, I was reading about a new study showing that women who were treated as children with radiation to the chest area have an increased risk of developing breast cancer as adults.
Radiation treatment was an essential and effective way to treat and cure children with lymphoma, leukemia and other cancers in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then, radiation was given in higher doses and was not as targeted — so the radiation effects on the body were greater. Today, with newer technology and advanced science, radiation is delivered more precisely and in smaller doses.
In order to understand your personal risks, take a look back at your cancer treatment with your primary care doctor and map out a plan to address your screening needs and other health concerns.
Late effects of cancer treatment will be unique for each person and can vary depending on the type of treatment you received as well as your age when treatment was given.
Some of the most common long-term effects include:
You may need to modify your individual cancer screening plan depending on your personal history. For example, in the case of women who received high doses of radiation to the chest area as children, the medical community is now recommending breast cancer screening starting at age 25 — much earlier than is recommended for other women.
Childhood cancer treatments are continually improving and evolving. The medical community is constantly learning more about long-term and late effects. If you're a childhood cancer survivor, be active and ask questions about late effects when you see your health care team. I invite you to share your experiences on the blog.
Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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What is the youngest age a child has undergone chemo and survived? my nephew is was born three months early and has now turn one year, 17 months actually. Since chemo has been recommend for his treatment of eye cancer, I'm very worried if he will tolerate the treatment .
I am a survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was diagnosed in 1979 as a 5 year old. I was involved in a clinical trial involving 10 different kinds of chemo drugs as well as radiation therapy. I went into remission 2 1/2 years later. I have had a seemingly normal life however I have now been diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive ductal carcinoma and it spread to my lymph nodes. I just had a double mastectomy and axillary node removal at 38 after just having my last child. The problem I'm now facing is what kinds of chemo are safe to use. My oncologist does not know what is yet safe to use. He is currently inquiring with other Breast Cancer institutes. I feel all alone in this and I'm just wondering if anyone e?se has had this come up during treatment preparations and if so what did you do? I need to beat this so I can live a long life watching my three little kids grow up. Hope someone sees this and can help.
During the 70's I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 27. Treated with radiation(cobalt and MOPP type of chemo used then) and surgery. Then in 2000 is was diagnosed with BC had Mastectomy,& chemo. Then a reoccurance 2 years later that had developed into stage 4 and spread to the lungs. I'm currently doing Herceptin forever.I'm also a Her 2 which means I have a higher chance of reoccurance. I'm in remission and enjoying life. I will continue to do this chemo not much in the way of side effects. Hardly know I'm doing it. Have a echocardiogram every 3 months to check for heart damage. I've been doing this 7 years now. I have this treatment by infusion every 3 wks. No nausea or illness your body gets use to it. Life is good.
I Have a friend who was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2010,at that time he never felt any sickness apart from the enlarged spleen which aroused him, he started on chemo and he still on chemo with a decreased dosage, he seems so fine. Is there any chance of my friend getting cured and free of this disease forever.
That explains it then!If it hpapened to men it would have been sorted out long ago, instead women suffering with breast cancer have to also put up with permanent hairloss while the men get away with it.Somethings never change do they.
I was so very glad to find this blog. Now 36yrs.old, I was diagnosed at 10 with lymphoma, treated with chemo & radiation, at the age of 12 was diagnosed with Leukemia, chemo, radiation, & bone marrow transplant, at 16 was again diagnosed with lymphoma treated with Chemo. I have had both hips & both shoulders replaced from nercrosis caused by steroids during treatment. My teeth are terrible from decay. I've recently been diagnosed with diabetes, among female issues I should not have dealt with for at least 20 more yrs. But my biggest question that I'm looking for answers from other adult childhood cancer survivors is has anyone else had mental side effects? Such as bouts of depression?
My 14 year old daughter is going through chemo right now for T-Cell Lymphoma. The comments telling of later affects of chemo and radiation on adolescents scares me so much. But I want to be informed and greatly appreciate what you have been through and all those who are reporting your experiences here. Thank you.
For those of you looking for additional resources and information, take a look at the Children's Oncology Group website for great information on survivorship guidelines. (www.survivorshipguidelines.org/)
Very informative.Shows how uncertain the world of illness is.All the more necessary to seek every method to gain health.
Long term screening- Best is-- Self examination, and not letting any time go by if anything suspicious is felt. Today you can have lab work to measure tumor markers in blood, and there are CT Scans that will detect the smallest activity. A CT Scan revealed a 7 mm tumor in my lung ... this is too small to get excited about. I will go in and have Scans to watch for change in size.
Hi ! Finally !!! I have been wanted to hear of Childhood Cancer Survivors --49 years ago I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1962. Treated with Cobalt to the Neck and Chest,and Cytoxin (Chemo therapy). 14 years later I had a Thyroidectomy to remove Thyroid Cancer. This was in 1976, I was 17. When I was 38 I had a Spinal Cord Tumor. (removed successfully) In 2000 Breast Cancer, I had a Lumpectomy Chemotherapy and Bracitherapy, (internal radiaton) I was 42. Most recent a tumor my upper thigh lower buttock area which was removed and pathology diagnosed metastatic breast metastatic cancer 2011. More in deepth studies show I have it in my lymph nodes and a questionable tumor on my lung that is about 7 mm. Other than that I work full time. Although I have always been a social misfit I have learned to make my way in the world..
Yes, please continue to provide more information on this topic.
Currently my province does not proactively offer long term screening for Late Effects, so many survivors are left fending for themselves.
I was diagnosed in 1971 (age 2yrs) with Stage IV Wilms Tumor. I had my left kidney, my spleen, and the lower lobe of my left lung removed.
Had Cobolt and Chemo (Vincristine and Actinomycin D). Radio was from my neck to my groin, and I have been told I am high risk for thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and unknown .....
Since my late teens, and into adulthood I have had two benign bone tumors, a benign ovarian tumor, and both a hemangioma and focal nodual hyperplasia on my liver.....interesting enough they are totally linear....right where the radiation field ended....coincidence.....I think not!
Since I lost my spleen I have a poor immune system and I often question if those struggles are complicated by the fact I was given Chemo, a immuno suppressant, at such a young age, and on such an immature immune system to start with?
Of course I have many of the other late effects such as scoliosis, joint problems, reduced lung capacity (related to scaring caused by radio), yellowed teeth (chemo), so on and so forth.
I would be interested in knowing more about the learning difficulties and anything related to fatigue....okay....lets be honest I would just like information......LOTS of information to assist me in being proactive in my health care.
I had Hodgkin's Disease in 1967, was given radiation therapy--and lived. Since, I have had breast cancer X3, lung cancer,heart valves replaced and am now getting skin cancer at radiation sites.I have a pacemaker and my thyroid is shot BUT--I AM STILL HERE.
I am a childhood cancer survivor of 40 years. I had a brain tumor removed in 1972 followed by 22 cobalt radiation treatments. I have had long term side effects ... 1988 I had a stroke was age 28 and in 1994 I had a heart attack age 34. I suffer from severe fatigue and my stroke left me being paralyzed from my knee down to tip of my toes on my right side. Here in Western Canada they are just starting to recognize childhood cancer survivors.
This article was very interesting keep them coming!
When I was about 8 yrs. I recieved radiation to my tonsils. It was called drying them out.
At age 58 I had my thyroid removed, because of cancer. At age 71, I had a bilateral
mascetomy. With cancer in both breasts.
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