Childhood Cancer Survivors
The end of active treatment is stressful for many parents and children. There's every hope that your child will remain cancer free. 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.
A New Normal
Your child's follow-up doctor visits are now part of the "new normal." These appointments may cause anxiety for you and your child. It's common to worry about whether the cancer has returned before doctor's visits. Anxieties should lessen as time passes and your child has more "good" checkups.
Talk with your treatment team about any fears to gain assurance when possible. Recognize that your fears and anxieties are a normal part of the process. Help your child to talk about his or her fears, anxieties, anger and hopes with you and the treatment team.
Without a doubt, the new normal is a time of adjustment for parents and children. You begin to understand some of the ways life will be forever changed because of the cancer experience. With your help, your child will be able to see that he or she can move forward and grow with an enhanced understanding of self and life.
The Children's Oncology Group publishes a resource for clinicians called Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers, which you can download at no cost. You may find it helpful to read and discuss the guidelines with your child's treatment team. The guide provides recommendations for screening and management of potential late effects of treatment.
Special Healthcare Needs
Childhood cancer survivors have special long-term healthcare needs. Coordination between your child's cancer specialists and pediatrician is essential to provide the best care. Survivors don't necessarily need a cancer specialist for routine checkups and screening, but they do need to see doctors who understand their previous treatment and its risks. For more information about ongoing healthcare needs for your child, see Follow-Up Care.
You may want to consider a survivorship program for your child that focuses on life after cancer. Several major hospitals around the country offer these programs. For a list of programs, see Patient and Caregiver Resources, Support and Counseling.
Some cancer treatment centers have follow-up clinics that specialize in pediatric cancer survivors. Others provide a multidisciplinary approach to monitoring and supporting cancer survivors. You can find directories of survivor follow-up clinics at: