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’s 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, some might come back even many years later. (Your child’s doctor should be able to give you an idea of how likely this is.)

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 health care team will want to watch your child closely, especially in the first few months and years after treatment to watch for tumor growth 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, report any new symptoms to your child’s doctor right away, so the cause can be determined and treated, if need be. Your child’s doctor can give you an idea of what to look for. If your child needs further treatment at some point, the doctor will go over the options with you.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: August 12, 2014 Last Revised: January 21, 2016

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