Experiences of Pediatric Cancer Survivors

Experiences  of  Pediatric  Cancer  Survivors

Pediatric cancer is also known as childhood cancer occurs in children who are less than 14 years. The definition for some people includes adolescents of 15-19 years.

Experiences of pediatric cancer survivors are usually narrations of after effects and conditions that occur later in life due because of the first infection.

The effects might vary according to the type of cancer, the location on the body, treatment, dosage, and age but these factors are common.

1. Growth, hormone and development problems

Cancer treatments might affect the endocrine system of a group of hormone-producing glands that control the body functions such as energy, growth, and puberty.

Radiation therapy near the brain, ears or eyes can reduce the functioning of the pituitary gland that helps in controlling puberty and growth. Children who receive radiation therapy to one of these regions before reaching adult height may have problems with growth. They might reach puberty later or earlier than the usual age. Kids who undergo radiation therapy to their pituitary gland are at more risk of becoming overweight and obsess. An endocrinologist can test these conditions to determine if there are hormone problems and provide treatments.

2. Reproductive and sexual development problems

The risk for these problems after childhood cancer treatment affects boys and girls after specific cancer treatments.

Boys

Radiation therapy on the lower abdomen, pelvis or tentacle can cause infertility. Chemotherapy with alkaline agents such as ifosfamide can also cause similar effects. These treatments might even change the levels of testosterone to affect the onset of puberty and sexual functioning.

Girls

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy to the pelvis, abdomen, or lower spine may affect the ovaries. The treatment might cause irregular periods, inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy to the full gestation period and early menopause. These treatments might also change the levels of estradiol, a female hormone that can affect sexual functioning and puberty.

Boys and girls

Radiation therapy to a child’s brain might affect the pituitary glands. These glands regulate the hormone levels, and these changes might affect fertility.

3. Bone formation problems

Radiation therapy on the bones, muscles and soft tissues can cause uneven or reduced growth to create other health conditions. For example, it might cause scoliosis a disease that makes the spine to curve sideways. Steroid drugs known as glucocorticoids have a direct effect on bone formation. Some of the medicines that oncologists use to treat pediatric cancer can cause low bone density and cause osteoporosis in severe causes. This disease increases the risk of broken bones. Luckily most children regain the bone density after the stop taking medicine.

4. Risk of secondary cancers

The risk of contracting secondary cancer is slightly higher for some survivors of childhood cancer. Secondary cancer will usually be a different type from the original. Some types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy have an active link to the emergence of other cancer after treatment. The most common secondary cancers affect the breast, skin, and thyroid.

5. Heart and lung problems

Some drugs for cancer treatment might cause heart problems such as weakness of the heart muscle, abnormal heart rhythms, and health failure. Radiation therapy to the upper abdomen, spine or chest increases the risk of late heart effects. These include problems with blood vessels in the hearts such as coronary artery disease and leaky heart valves. It is essential for survivors of pediatric cancer to routinely visit a doctor for tests on the heart function for around two years after treatment. These tests include an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram.

Lung damage occurs due to certain types of chemotherapy including carmustine and lomustine. Radiation or surgery to the chest or lungs can cause problems breathing problems after treatment. Children who receive cancer treatment at younger ages are at more risk of getting breathing and lung problems. It is essential for children to be going for regular tests for at least two years after treatment.

The experiences of pediatric cancer cause various emotional and physical problems but early diagnosis and proper follow-up care allow treatment of most late effects.

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