Do pediatric cancer survivors have side effects from treatment when they become young adults? Will there be issues with fertility or a risk for other cancers?


Some of the survivors may indeed have side effects from prior treatment. Fortunately, we are doing much better in our ability to cure children with cancer. And, in fact, the great majority of our patients now do survive their disease. But treatments can be difficult and can take a toll. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy all have the potential for long-term side effects. We have a clinic at Roswell Park that is devoted strictly to the survivors of childhood cancer for this very purpose -- to evaluate them for possible long-term side effects, to learn what these might be and also so we can better alter our therapies in the future to try to prevent these side effects. There are some treatments that may cause fertility problems in the future and we actively seek fertility preservation options, particularly for adolescent patients who may be undergoing cancer therapy. There are some treatments that themselves can increase the risk for cancer later in the life and, this too, is a reason why patients should be observed periodically for any late effects of treatment and why we continue to do research to refine our therapies, to less the long-term side effects of those treatments.

Martin Brecher, MD