Cancer Treatment on Children

Affects on the Brain

Doctors try to postpone radiation therapy in children younger than three. Learning disabilities are more common in children who get both radiation and chemotherapy to the brain. Learning problems, called cognitive impairments, show up within a few years of treatment.

  • Lower academic test scores

  • Problems with memory and attention

  • poor hand eye coordination

  • behavior problems

Depending on the treatment used, late affects can occur such as seizures and frequent headaches. Radiation therapy can sometimes affect the pituitary gland. Symptoms can include fatigue, poor appetite, cold intolerance, and constipation.

Treatments that affect the brain can also lead to other affects in the body. For example, radiation therapy can sometimes affect the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain and helps control the levels of many hormones in the body.

Affects on the Eyes

Radiation treatment to the bones near the eye may slow bone growth, which can change the shape of a child's face. Certain chemo drugs can be toxic and may lead to problems like blurred vision, double vision, and glaucoma.

Children who have had a stem cell transplant may be at a higher risk for some eye problems if they develop chronic graft-versus-hot- disease The condition in which the immune system attacks cells in the eye( as well as other cells in the body). Other late affects of the eye include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Poor vision
  • Tumor on the eyelid

Affects on Hearing

Certain chemo drugs and antibiotics may cause hearing loss( especially with high pitched sounds).Radiation given to the brain or ear can also lead to hearing loss, as surgery Radiation given to the brain or ear can also lead to hearing loss. This risk may be higher in children who are young at the time of treatment. Other late affects of treatment in this area may include:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble hearing words when background noise levels are high
  • Dizziness (if treatment affects the inner ear)
  • Hard, crusty earwax

Younger children with hearing loss may have problems with language development. Older children may have problems in school or in social situations. Some children might need hearing aids or need to use other resources to help them communicate effectively.