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


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

Health habits that promote a healthy liver are important for survivors of childhood cancer.

Childhood cancer survivors with liver late effects should take care to protect their health, including:

  • Having a healthy weight.
  • Not drinking alcohol.
  • Getting vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses.


Radiation therapy increases the risk of pancreatic late effects.

The risk of pancreatic late effects may be increased in childhood cancer survivors after treatment with one of the following:

  • Radiation therapy to the abdomen.
  • Total-body irradiation (TBI) as part of a stem cell transplant.

Late effects that affect the pancreas may cause certain health problems.

Pancreatic late effects include the following:

  • Insulin resistance: A condition in which the body does not use insulin the way it should. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of glucose (a type of sugar) in the body. Because the insulin does not work the way it should, glucose and fat levels rise.
  • Diabetes mellitus: A disease in which the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it the way it should. When there is not enough insulin, the amount of glucose in the blood increases and the kidneys make a large amount of urine.

Possible signs of pancreatic late effects include frequent urination and being thirsty.

These symptoms may be caused by pancreatic late effects:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Feeling very thirsty.
  • Feeling very hungry.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Frequent infections, especially of the skin, gums, or bladder.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. Talk to your child's doctor if your child has any of these problems.

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

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

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and the amount of glucose that is attached to red blood cells is measured. A higher than normal amount of glucose attached to red blood cells can be a sign of diabetes mellitus.
  • Fasting blood sugar test: A test in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. This test is done after the patient has had nothing to eat overnight. A higher than normal amount of glucose in the blood can be a sign of diabetes mellitus.

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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