Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

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. This risk is higher in younger children than in older children and may be greater in the early years after the spleen stops working or is removed by surgery. These signs and 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 may be recommended for children younger than 5 years of age whose spleen is no longer working or for at least 1 year after surgery to remove the spleen. For certain high-risk patients, daily antibiotics may be prescribed throughout childhood and into adulthood.

In addition, children at risk should be vaccinated on a schedule through adolescence against the following:

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: May 28, 2015
    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.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas