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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Immune System

Surgery to remove the spleen increases the risk of immune system late effects.

The risk of health problems that affect the immune system increases after treatment with the following:

  • Surgery to remove the spleen.
  • High-dose radiation therapy to the spleen.
  • Stem cell transplant and graft-versus-host disease during or after treatment.

Late effects that affect the immune system may cause infection.

Late effects that affect the immune system may increase the risk of very serious bacterial infections. These symptoms may be caused by infection:

  • Redness, swelling, or warmth of a part of the body.
  • Pain that is in one part of the body, such as the eye, ear, or throat.
  • Fever.

An infection may cause other symptoms that depend on the part of the body affected. For example, a lung infection may cause a cough and thick mucus.

Children who have had their spleen removed may need antibiotics to prevent infection.

Taking daily antibiotics for at least 2 to 3 years after splenectomy or until at least 5 years of age for young children may be recommended. At the first sign of fever (temperature over 101.5°F or 38.5°C), it is important to have prompt medical care and be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics should also be given before dental work to prevent infection.

In addition, children at risk should be vaccinated against the following:

  • Pneumococcal disease (for children aged 10 years and older and more than 5 years after last dose).
  • Meningococcal disease.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease.

Talk to your child's doctor about whether other childhood vaccinations need to be repeated.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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