A child's cancer diagnosis can bring with it feelings of uncertainty for parents and other family members. Suddenly, you're thrust into a fast-paced world of change, worry, fear and concern. You'll need to make treatment decisions while taking the time to comfort your child - and at the same time trying to cope with your own emotions.
Your child could face two to three years of treatment, which includes spending time in the hospital. Parents of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) should ask the doctor for information about addressing the risk for infertility. Many children with ALL are treated in clinical trials.
- induction therapy
- postremission (consolidation and maintenance) therapy
- intrathecal therapy
Postremission (consolidation and maintenance) therapy lasts for two to three years after ALL goes into remission. Children respond better to treatment than adults do.
Stem Cell Transplantation
Most children (about 75 percent to 80 percent) don't need stem cell transplantation. The procedure is considered only when:
- doctors have determined that the child's type of ALL is not likely to respond well to chemotherapy
- chemotherapy hasn't worked well
- a child has relapsed ALL
When it comes to finding the right treatment for your child's cancer, a clinical trial may be an option. Your child will have access to new or improved therapies under study and not yet on the market. Discuss with your child's doctor the possibility of participating in a clinical trial, where treatment is administered in a safe, closely monitored environment.
Refractory and Relapsed Treatment
The drug clofarabine (Clolar®) is used to treat some children aged 1 to 21 years with relapsed and refractory ALL after they've undergone at least two regimens of chemotherapy. Clolar doesn't cure ALL, but it can lead to a temporary remission. The remission is followed by allogeneic stem cell transplantation.
Survivorship and Special Healthcare Needs
After treatment, most children can expect to have full and productive lives. Many survivors return to school, attend college, enter the workforce, marry and become parents.
Childhood cancer survivors have special long-term healthcare needs. You may want to consider a survivorship program that focuses on life after cancer for your child. Several major hospitals around the country offer these programs.
More to Explore
- Understanding your child's ongoing healthcare needs
- Survivorship resources for children and families
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS's) free fact sheet Choosing a Blood Cancer Specialist or Treatment Center
- Download or order LLS's free booklet Knowing All Your Treatment Options
- Download questions to ask your doctor about treatment options