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It’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September 13, 2010 | Jennifer Louis

See also: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Events

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, honoring the more than 40,000 children currently being treated in the U.S. as well as the estimated 270,000 childhood cancer survivors.

Treatment of childhood cancer is one of modern medicine’s success stories. Over the last 30 years, survival into adulthood increased from 30 percent to 80 percent. As more lives are saved, new research is looking at preventing and treating late effects after treatment.

For more information about childhood cancer and resources available to patients and families, visit the following sites:

Late effects are treatment-related health problems that appear months or years after treatment.

The surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy used to cure children sometimes affect growing bodies and developing minds. Childhood cancer survivors are at risk of developing treatment-related late effects to any area of the body including the heart, reproductive system, respiratory system, eyes, hearing, endocrine system, teeth and bones as well as cognitive and emotional function. In addition, they are greater risk to develop secondary cancers related to chemotherapy drugs and/or radiation used to treat their first cancer.

The likelihood that a child will develop these disorders depends on the age when he or she was treated, the type of cancer and the intensity of the treatment received.

Regular follow-up by health professionals who are expert in finding and treating late effects is important for the long-term health of childhood cancer survivors. Records about the cancer diagnosis and treatment, including all test results, should be kept by childhood cancer survivors (or their caregivers). This information may be used to help find and treat late effects. More info: Long-term Follow-up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers .