Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Font Size

Effects of Childhood Cancer Can Linger Long After Disease Is Gone



McKee and the medical team at Cook Children's know the importance of talking about how the illness and treatment may impact their lives. McKee says that other childhood cancer survivors talked with him about what to expect when he was dealing with it and it helped him cope. A few years after his transplant, McKee began volunteering his time to counsel others and continues to do so.


As evidenced by McKee's experience, Cook Children's has always diligently provided emotional and medical care for its childhood cancer survivors -- even into their 30s. Recently, they expanded that effort by launching the Life After Cancer Program with the help of cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and his foundation.


"Once we realize a child will survive, than we have to look at what their long-term care will be," says Jeffrey Murray, MD, pediatric oncologist and medical director of the program. "We have to get any issues they may have out on the table and discuss them."


Under the program, pediatric doctors in all specialties are available for consultation, along with nurses, a psychologist, and a social worker. The program will do baseline neuropsychological testing when children are diagnosed so doctors can monitor them for any learning problems during treatment, follow-up, and recovery.


"A lot of the patients do have fatigue and many have sociopsychological problems, maybe even posttraumatic stress syndrome," says Lisa Bashore, MS, RN, CPNP, director of the Life After Cancer Program. She says dealing with cancer, treatment, and recovery often is more difficult for teenagers than for the younger children.


"Adolescence is a very difficult time for anyone. They want to be independent and away from their parents with their friends," Bashore tells WebMD. "But for kids with cancer, it's even more difficult because they are facing isolation and restrictions."


McKee says that he was old enough to understand the consequences of Hodgkin's and the transplant, and he trusted the doctors. "It made me realize they knew what they were doing."


But some older youngsters have more emotional problems because they are aware of what's happening to them, Murray and Bashore say. The authors of the Journal of Clinical Oncology paper echo this. They say in earlier studies they found a much lower rate -- 4.5% -- of posttraumatic stress disorder in cancer survivors aged 8 to 19. They believe this may be because younger children aren't aware of their own mortality and often don't realize the seriousness of the disease. The average age of the young adults in the current study was 25.


The researchers warn that if young cancer survivors are too anxious about their future, they may stop seeking the medical and psychological care they need. The authors advise that healthcare professionals honestly discuss long-term effects and establish a caring relationship with young adult survivors to support their development.

Today on WebMD

what is your cancer risk
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
cancer fighting foods
Your Cancer Specialists Doctors You Need To Know

Vitamin D
New Treatments For Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
Pets Improve Your Health

WebMD Special Sections