Life after children's cancer

Will the cancer come back?

Some children and parents feel anxious about treatments ending. It’s common to feel that the treatment is doing something to stop the cancer from returning, However, for most childhood cancers the appropriate duration of therapy has been determined to ensure the best chance of cure. Continuing therapy beyond this time only adds to toxicity without improving cure. Stopping treatment doesn’t mean the cancer will come back.

Doctors will monitor your child after treatment for any signs of that the cancer is returning. These tests are an important part of the follow-up. You will probably feel very anxious and nervous while waiting for the results. This is quite normal. However, Support groups are available to help you manage this anxiety.

Sometimes, cancer does come back (also known as ‘recurrence’). If this happens, there are very likely to be further treatment options available for your child. Some may be the same, or your doctor may try a different approach or treatment. There’s also the increasing possibility that new treatments or clinical trials will become available, identified through research.

Second cancers1

A second cancer is a new, different cancer in someone who has already had cancer. It’s not the same as a recurrence, which is when the same cancer comes back. A second cancer is a different type of cancer to the first.

Some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can increase the risk of a second cancer.

Your doctor can explain if your child is at increased risk of developing a second cancer, and if they need any extra screening.