People who are treated for cancer as children can develop both physical and emotional late effects. Cancer treatments can damage healthy cells when they are doing their job of removing or destroying cancer cells. This damage can lead to health problems months or years after cancer treatment is finished. Health problems that develop after cancer treatment is completed are called late effects.
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Some cancer treatments damage healthy cells. The damage is not seen during treatment, but as the child's body grows, changes in cell growth or function appear. The medicines used for chemotherapy and the high-energy rays used in radiation therapy can harm healthy cells. This damage can change or delay the way cells grow. Radiation therapy has a more direct effect on long-term growth than chemotherapy. When cancer surgery is performed, it may cause changes in the growth or function of an organ. The child's health care team will come up with a treatment plan to avoid harming healthy cells as much as possible.
Keep in mind that not everyone who has childhood cancer treatment gets late effects. Different chemotherapy drugs cause different late effects. So if you didn't take the chemotherapy drugs that can cause infertility then you aren't believed to be at risk of that particular late effect. The late effects of radiation therapy and surgery will affect only the area of the body exposed to them.
Research is needed to optimize the recovery of childhood cancer survivors and to test ways of delivering appropriate clinical and supportive care services. This underrecognized area of research needs new support.