What happens after treatment for brain and spinal cord tumors in children?
After treatment, the main concerns for most families are the short- and long-term effects of the tumor and its treatment, and concerns about the tumor still being present or coming back.
It is certainly normal to want to put the tumor and its treatment behind you, and to get back to a life that doesn’t revolve around the tumor. But it’s important to realize that follow-up care is a central part of this process that offers your child the best chance for recovery and long-term survival.
Looking for tumor progression or recurrence
In some cases, even with slow growing tumors, some of the tumor may still remain after treatment. Even when childhood tumors are treated successfully, it is important to remember that some may come back even many years later. (Your child’s doctor should be able to give you an idea of how likely this might be in his or her case.)
Imaging tests (CT or MRI scans), physical exams, and sometimes other tests will be done after treatment to help determine how successful it was. Whether the tumor was removed completely or not, your child’s care team will want to watch your child closely, especially in the first few months and years after treatment to make sure there is no progression or recurrence. Depending on the type and location of the tumor and the extent of the treatment, the team will let you know which tests need to be done and how often.
During this time, it is important to report any new symptoms to your child’s doctor right away, so that the cause can be determined and treated, if need be. Your child’s doctor can give you an idea of what to look for. Should further treatment be needed at some point, the doctor will go over the options with you.
Last Medical Review: 03/22/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014