Life after children's cancer

After treatment

The end of your child's cancer treatment is likely to be a big relief. However, you will probably have many questions about what will happen next, including:

  • When can my child go back to school/preschool/day care?
  • Do we need to come back for check-ups, and how often?
  • Will my child develop normally?
  • Should my child be avoiding certain activities?
  • What should I look out for?
  • What if my child gets a fever?
  • Can my child be vaccinated?
  • Will the cancer come back?
  • Will my child get another cancer?

Your child’s oncologist can answer most of these questions. The answers will depend on how old your child is, and what type of cancer and treatments they had.

It’s important that your regular doctor (GP) or another doctor also knows everything about your child’s diagnosis and treatment. This will help them assess your child during any future visits.

Most children will be able to resume normal activities. In a few cases, there will be limitations because of treatments, such as surgery. Your oncologist will be able to advise you further.


Follow-up tests or scans

Some tests will need to continue even when treatment ends. For example, your child will continue to need follow-up tests, which might include blood tests (see How is cancer diagnosed?) or scans to make sure your child has recovered fully, to monitor for any late effects of therapy and for any evidence of cancer recurrence.

Your doctor will let you know which follow-up tests or scans your child will need, and how often. Some of the tests or scans will be the same as the tests or scans that were used to first diagnose the cancer (see How is cancer diagnosed?). Some of the tests or scans will need to be continued for 2 years or longer after treatment has stopped.

Other visits to the doctor

If you notice any of the symptoms that your child had when they were diagnosed with cancer, contact your doctor. But remember, many symptoms are not specific to cancer. Having some of these symptoms does not mean that your child has cancer again. Remember that most children will be cured of cancer.

Your oncologist will advise you at what point after treatment finishes, your child can see the family doctor if unwell. If your child develops a fever after treatment has finished and they have recovered completely (this may take some months), contact your regular doctor (GP). Your GP can help decide how serious the fever might be and what might be causing it.

Your child may need to be revaccinated (as ‘booster shots’) after cancer treatment. Your oncologist will let you know which vaccinations your child should get and when.

If you have any questions about after-treatment care, make sure you ask your oncologist. They will be able to provide further details and answer your specific questions.