Late and Long-Term Effects of Treatment for Wilms Tumor
Because of major advances in treatment, most children treated for Wilms tumor are now surviving into adulthood. Doctors have learned that treatment can 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. We have information to help parents cope with the many issues that can come up during and after a child is treated for cancer.
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 treated for Wilms tumor are at risk, to some degree, for several possible late effects of their cancer treatment. It’s important to discuss what these possible effects might be with your child’s medical team so you know what to watch for and report to the doctor.
The risk of late effects depends on a number of factors, such as the specific treatments the child has, the doses of treatment, and the age of the child when being treated. These late effects may include:
- Reduced kidney function
- Heart or lung problems after getting certain chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy to these parts of the body
- Slowed or delayed growth and development
- Changes in sexual development and ability to have children, especially in girls
- Increased risk of second cancers later in life (rare)
There may be other possible complications from treatment as well. Your child’s doctor should carefully review any possible problems with you before your child starts treatment.
Along with physical side effects, some childhood cancer survivors might have emotional or psychological issues. They might also have problems with normal functioning and school work. These can often be addressed with support and encouragement. If needed, doctors and other members of the health care team can recommend special support programs and services to help children after cancer treatment.
Long-term follow-up care
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 can be treated.
Ask your child’s health care team about possible long-term complications and make sure there’s 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 read them online at www.survivorshipguidelines.org. You may want to discuss them with your child's doctor.
Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Late Effects of Cancer Treatment tells you a lot more about some of the possible long-term effects of cancer treatment.
Things to keep
As much as you might want to put the experience behind you once treatment is completed, it’s very important to keep good records of your child’s medical care during this time. This can be very helpful later on as your child changes doctors. Gathering these details during and soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them in the future.
It’s also very important to keep health insurance coverage. Follow-up tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of the tumor coming back, this could happen.
Last Medical Review: March 6, 2015 Last Revised: February 16, 2016