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Long term side effects of treatment

Many parents worry about the possible long term effects of treatment. Some children treated for neuroblastoma go on to develop long term side effects. But not everyone has them. The possible long term effects depend on the:

  • type of treatment the child has had
  • treatment amounts (doses) they had
  • age they were when they had treatment

In particular, children with high risk neuroblastoma often have a range of different treatments. Each with their own possible side effects. It’s impossible to predict who will get long term side effects at the moment.

It is important to remember that the risk of treatment needs to be weighed up against the benefits of treatment. More children are surviving neuroblastoma as treatments have improved over the last 20 years. And the risk of long term effects is also becoming less as childhood cancer treatments become kinder with research.

Possible long term late effects

Some of the possible long term effects include:

  • not being able to have children in the future (fertility problems)
  • hearing problems
  • lung problems
  • changes in how the kidneys and heart work
  • problems with the glands that create hormones (endocrine system). This can cause problems such as growth and development issues, thyroid issues, period changes, and diabetes
  • a risk of developing a second cancer

Your child’s doctor will talk to you about the possible risks depending on the treatment your child has had. They will continue to keep a close eye on your child, so that any problems can be treated early. They will work out the best way to follow them up depending on the treatment they have had. 

Late effects clinic

Children who have had cancer should have follow up into adulthood.

Long term follow up clinics are available for those who are 5 years or more from the end of their cancer treatment. You child usually sees a specialist nurse. The specialist nurse can make referrals to other professionals if they need to.

Last reviewed: 
25 Feb 2021
Next review due: 
25 Feb 2024
  • Neuroblastoma
    J Shohet and J Foster
    The BMJ, 2017. Volume 357

  • Late Effects and Survivorship Issues in Patients with Neuroblastoma
    D N Friedman and T O Henderson
    Children (Basel), 2018. Volume 8, Issue 8, Page 107

  • Overview and recent advances in the treatment of neuroblastoma
    SB Whittle and others
    Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy, 2017. Volume 17, Number 4, PAges 368 - 386

  • Late effects in children treated with intensive multimodal therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma: High incidence of endocrine and growth problems
    LE Cohen and others
    Bone Marrow Transplantation, 2014. Volume 49, Pages 502 – 508

  • Oxford Textbook of Cancer in Children (7th Edition)
    H N Caron and others
    Oxford University Press, 2020

  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. Please contact patientinformation@cancer.org.uk with details of the particular issue you are interested in if you need additional references for this information.