Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

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Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(10):1256

See related article on adult survivors of childhood cancer

What is childhood cancer?

Almost 12,000 American children are diagnosed with cancer every year, although most survive if they get treatment. When these children become adults, the cancer they had is called childhood cancer.

Why is it important to stay healthy after childhood cancer?

Adults who had childhood cancer may be at risk of future health problems related to cancer treatment. For example, radiation to treat a tumor may cause organs near the cancer to not work right. Childhood cancer also may increase your risk of getting another type of cancer. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy.

How can my doctor help?

Along with routine health visits, your doctor can make a long-term plan called a Survivorship Care Plan. There are many different types of treatments for childhood cancer. You should know as much as possible about your childhood cancer and treatment.

The doctor(s) who treated your cancer can help you get information about it. Important questions to ask include:

  • What was my diagnosis (including date of diagnosis and dates of treatment)?

  • Did I have chemotherapy (what kind and how much)?

  • Did I have radiation (where and how much)?

  • Did I have any surgeries (what kind and where)?

  • Did I have any other treatments or complications?

What can I do to stay healthy?

In addition to following your Survivorship Care Plan, you should eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. For information on a healthy diet, go to http://www.mypyramid.gov. Smokers also should quit smoking.

Where can I get more information?

Children's Oncology Group

National Childhood Cancer Foundation

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