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


Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose health problems in the digestive tract.

These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose digestive tract late effects:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as abdominal tenderness or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.
  • X-ray: An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body. An x-ray may be taken of the abdomen, kidney, ureter, or bladder to check for signs of disease.
  • Digital rectal exam: An exam of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.

Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child needs to have tests and procedures to check for signs of digestive tract late effects. If tests are needed, find out how often they should be done.

Liver and bile ducts

Liver and bile duct late effects are more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause liver or bile duct late effects:

Certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation to the liver or bile ducts increase the risk of late effects.

The risk of liver or bile duct late effects may be increased in childhood cancer survivors treated with one of the following:

  • Chemotherapy that includes high-dose cyclophosphamide as part of a stem cell transplant.
  • Chemotherapy drugs such as 6-mercaptopurine, 6-thioguanine, and methotrexate.
  • Radiation therapy to the liver and bile ducts. The risk depends on the following:
    • The dose of radiation and how much of the liver is treated.
    • Age when treated (the younger the age, the higher the risk).
    • Whether there was surgery to remove part of the liver.
    • Whether chemotherapy was given together with radiation therapy.
    • Whether the patient has hepatitis or too much iron in the body.

Being infected with the hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or both also increases the risk of liver damage.

Late effects that affect the liver and bile ducts may cause certain health problems.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 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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