Moving on after treatment
After treatment for childhood leukemia, the main concerns for most families are the short and long-term effects of the leukemia and its treatment, and concerns about whether the cancer might come back.
Of course, it’s normal to want to put the leukemia and its treatment behind you and to get back to a life that doesn't revolve around the cancer. 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.
Follow-up exams are needed for several years after treatment. These visits are very important. The doctor will watch for signs that the cancer has come back, as well as for short-term and long-term side effects of treatment.
Checkups most often include careful physical exams, lab tests, and sometimes, imaging tests. These checkups will likely take place monthly during the first year, and then less often for at least 5 years after treatment. After that time, most children see their doctor at least yearly for a checkup.
If the leukemia returns, it usually does so during treatment or within a year or so after treatment ends. It's unusual for ALL or AML to come back if there are no signs of the disease within the next 2 years.
Follow-up care gives you a chance to discuss questions and concerns that come up during and after your child's recovery. For example, almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to several months, but others can be permanent. It is important to report any new symptoms to the doctor right away, so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Last Medical Review: 06/29/2012
Last Revised: 01/21/2013