Long-term effects of cancer treatment for retinoblastoma
With major advances in treatment in recent decades, many children treated for retinoblastoma are now surviving into adulthood. Doctors have learned that the treatment may affect children's health later in life, so watching for health effects as they get older has become more of a concern in recent years.
Just as the treatment of childhood cancer requires a very specialized approach, so does the care and follow-up after treatment. The earlier any problems can be recognized, the more likely it is they can be treated effectively.
Young people with cancer are at risk, to some degree, for several possible late effects of their cancer treatment. The risk of late effects depends on a number of factors, such as the specific treatments the child received, the doses of treatment, and the age of the child when being treated. These late effects may include:
- Reduced kidney function
- Heart problems after receiving certain chemotherapy drugs
- Slowed or decreased growth and development
- Changes in sexual development and ability to have children
- Development of other cancers (See the next section, “Second cancers.”)
To help increase awareness of late effects and improve follow-up care of childhood cancer survivors throughout their lives, the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) has developed long-term follow-up guidelines for survivors of childhood cancers. These guidelines can help you know what to watch for, what type of screening tests should be done to look for problems, and how late effects may be treated.
It is very important to discuss possible long-term complications with your child’s health care team, and to make sure there is a plan in place to watch for these problems and treat them, if needed. To learn more, ask your child's doctors about the COG survivor guidelines. You can also download them for free at the Children’s Oncology Group Web site: www.survivorshipguidelines.org. The guidelines are written for health care professionals. Patient versions of some of the guidelines available (as “Health Links”) on the site as well, but we urge you to review them with a doctor.
For more about some of the possible long-term effects of treatment, see our document called Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Late Effects of Cancer Treatment.
Last Medical Review: 08/06/2012
Last Revised: 08/06/2012