Childhood brain and spinal cord cancer behaves differently in each child and the many different types of brain tumours react differently to treatment. Therefore, a standard follow-up schedule would not work for all children. Parents of children with brain and spinal cord cancer should talk to their child’s doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their child’s individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists) and the family doctor.
After treatment has ended, new symptoms or symptoms that don’t go away should be reported to the doctor without waiting for the next scheduled appointment. These may include:
The chance of brain and spinal cord cancer recurring is greatest within the first several years after therapy, so close follow-up is needed during this time. However, because a tumour can recur many years after initial treatment, long-term follow-up care is very important.
Follow-up after brain and spinal cord cancer treatment varies depending on the type of tumour, its location, the child’s age and the type of treatment given. Generally speaking, follow-up visits are usually scheduled:
During a follow-up visit, the doctor usually asks questions about the side effects of treatment, and how the child and family are coping. The doctor may do a complete physical and neurologic examination, including:
Tests may be ordered as part of follow-up or if the doctor suspects the cancer has come back (has recurred).
If a recurrence is found during follow-up, the oncology team will assess the child to determine the best treatment options.
I feel honoured that I was a part of these people’s lives … honoured to have been there for them, to have listened and offered hope that it will be okay.
The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.