In the UK more than 80% of children diagnosed with cancer survive at least five years, and the majority of survivors are cured. However cancer patients, of all ages, can often suffer from Late Effects.
Late Effects are long-term, serious reactions from the treatment or therapy they have taken to combat cancer.
These effects do not always show up immediately and they are often only apparent years later with no obvious warning signs.
They can be both psychological and physical and relate to specific dosage and type of treatment, the effects are different for each person regardless of the type and length of treatment they have had.
Examples of Late Effects include heart failure, decreased mobility, fertility problems, deafness, dental problems and growth issues. Whilst they cannot always be cured there is support available to make them manageable and regular check-ups for years later to monitor the patients’ progress and signs of recurring cancer and long term side effects long after treatment has ended.
“I relapsed when I was 12, for me that was the hardest part because I knew what was coming. I was then put on treatment and had a massive stroke”.
Ellen was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when she was nine years old. Now, some 17 years later, she reflects on the Late Effects including a stroke and heart failure, which happened 11 years after diagnosis. Here Ellen talks about what she has been through and her life now after having survived childhood cancer.
Late effects are usually due to the treatment given for the cancer, for example side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Sometimes they may be due to damage caused by the cancer, for example by brain tumours.
Here are some examples of what may cause late effects to develop:
For more information about Late Effects of cancer treatment, visit CCLG website.
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