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Lisa Black

Some long-term effects don’t show up for years; Pediatricians can help families navigate any new concerns.

More children diagnosed with cancer are living longer lives, thanks to the strides in medicine over the past 50 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers updated guidance to pediatricians in long-term follow-up care of cancer survivors in a clinical report published in the September 2021 Pediatrics.

The report, “Long-term Follow-up Care for Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors,” has been updated based on the latest guidelines from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). The report, from the Section on Hematology/Oncology, COG and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, is available at

“Children and families typically will have mixed emotions to ending cancer treatment, ranging from relief to concern that the cancer will return,” said Melissa M. Hudson, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the clinical report. “Pediatricians can help them adjust to new health care routines and monitor their physical and emotional health.”

Five-year survival rates for children diagnosed with cancer now exceed 80% in high-income countries, with extended survival into adulthood anticipated for most children, teens and young adults. Two of every 3 childhood cancer survivors will develop at least one late-onset therapy-related complication; in 1 of every 4 cases, the complication will be severe or life threatening.

The AAP clinical report recommends that pediatricians work with oncology subspecialists to develop and implement a survivorship plan; educate survivors and their families on cancer treatment-related health risks, and recommended health screening and risk-reduction methods; and prepare survivors and their families for health care transitions.

AAP also recommends that pediatricians:

  • Use the Children’s Oncology Group’s Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers to develop an individualized survivorship care plan based on the survivor’s specific cancer treatment and risk of late complications.
  • Ensure that the survivorship care plan includes screening for potential adverse medical and psychosocial effects of the cancer experience.
  • Ensure that the plan addresses comorbid health conditions, familial and genetic factors, and health behaviors that affect the risk of chronic disease; and provide interventions and resources to remediate and prevent late effects of cancer and promote healthy lifestyle behaviors.

“Many survivors experience some long-term effects of cancer, some of which don’t show up for years after cancer treatment,” Dr. Hudson said. “Families are encouraged to ask their doctors what to expect during their child’s recovery from cancer treatment. The pediatrician can help provide resources, answers to questions and a listening ear.”

Resource for parents: Childhood Cancer Survivors: What to Expect After Treatment -


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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