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Kid's Health (Archive)
Our award-winning Kid's Health Magazine is designed to provide healthful information for your growing child. Please Note: Kid's Health Magazine is no longer being printed. Please visit our blog at http://www.choc.org/blog for the latest articles about your child's health from the experts at CHOC Children's. You can also receive our electronic Kid's Health newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

Life After Cancer:
Long-Term Monitoring and Care For Childhood Cancer Survivors

After undergoing cancer treatment twice at CHOC when she was a small child, Mary Beth Murray, now 21, has been cancer-free for almost 15 years. Courtney Cheney, 18, finished her last chemotherapy session at CHOC just a little over two years ago.

Mary Beth and Courtney are among the 75 percent of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer who survive. However, they, like many patients who survive childhood cancer, may experience side effects in later life resulting from the toxic nature of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. For this reason, Mary Beth and Courtney continue to be monitored through the Long-Term Follow-Up Program at The CHOC Cancer Institute.

"These kids are a special population. They are at risk for possible health problems involving vital organ function, such as cardiac disorders; cognitive and learning deficiencies; growth and development concerns; and fertility and reproduction issues," says Lilibeth Torno, M.D., medical director of the program. "Our goal is to screen, identify, diagnose and treat the late side effects of cancer treatment as early as possible, and to educate patients, parents and primary care providers about the long-term health implications of childhood cancer survival."

Dr. Torno also reports late side effects to the Children's Oncology Group, for analysis with information collected from other childhood cancer survivors. The sharing of this data will ultimately result in better, less-toxic cancer treatment for children.


Most patients begin the Long-Term Follow-Up Program two years after the completion of treatment. However, if there are special concerns, a patient may be enrolled in the program sooner. Each patient receives a customized notebook summarizing the specific forms and dosages of the treatment that was received. This notebook also outlines potential complications, recommended screening guidelines, lifestyle counseling and other follow-up care recommendations. "We are educating patients to be proactive and to take control of their health," Dr. Torno says. "I tell them, 'This is your "life story" that you can take with you or the rest of your life.'"

As a result of her cancer treatment, Mary Beth Murray takes heart and thyroid medications. She appreciates the way her physicians at the Long-Term Follow-Up Program write letters to her primary care physician alerting him to the importance of certain tests she needs, such as bone density and cardiac screenings. Courtney Cheney, who experiences acid reflux and lingering fatigue from her chemotherapy, likes knowing that CHOC is keeping an eye on her even though treatment ended two years ago.

"They are still constantly checking to make sure everything is okay," Cheney says "I feel like I am in really good hands."

The Long-Term Follow-Up Program is also available for survivors of childhood cancer who received treatment at hospitals other than CHOC. For more information, call the CHOC Cancer Institute at (800) 329-2900.


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .