Careful observation

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Most children's cancers need active treatment. But sometimes cancer can change and become benign. A benign tumour is a lump of tissue that is not cancer. This is rare, but it can happen.

Children with a benign cancer may not need any specific treatment, but your child’s doctor will closely monitor them. Your child’s doctor will decide if this is a good option.

Careful observation means that the doctors will monitor your child closely, but not recommend any treatment unless the cancer changes or grows. This is because all treatments have side effects. Sometimes, it is better to delay treatment. Some children who are under careful observation may remain well without treatment.

Careful observation involves regular check-ups and tests to check whether the cancer is changing. Tests include those described in How is cancer diagnosed.

Your child will have more tests if:

  • a test result indicates that the cancer has changed (e.g. the tumour has grown bigger)
  • your child develops symptoms that they didn’t have when they were diagnosed.

These further tests will help decide if your child should start active treatment, such as:

If it is safe, careful observation can be a good idea. Cancer treatment disrupts your and your child’s life. Careful observation can avoid some of this disruption.

Careful observation is not a good option for cancers that are aggressive or fast growing.