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Focus on Cancer

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Cancer Prevention Tips for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Melanie Gaffney is a proud childhood cancer survivor, and a contributor to the Focus On Cancer blog. Today she is cancer-free, but lives with the after effects of her cancer treatments. 

It is no secret that once you survive cancer, your chances increase for future health problems. Depending on the type and location of the cancer you survived and how it was treated,  you may be at an increased risk for getting cancer again.

Childhood cancer survivors are a little bit different from adults and have a unique set of factors that may increase their risk. Children with cancer are treated during an important time, when they are developing both physically and mentally.

Because of this, they may have long term health effects. These effects may not show up until weeks, months or many years after treatment and are called late effects.

After going through cancer and enduring the treatments, many survivors are reluctant to continue to receive follow-up care, often because they are scared about finding additional health problems. They may even feel that they have experienced enough illness and don’t want to see doctors anymore - getting tests and diagnoses can bring up many feelings of the past. Survivors of childhood cancer (and anyone for that matter) can minimize the severity of late effects and reduce their risk for recurrent cancers and other diseases by following these tips:
  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Protect skin from sun exposure.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid illegal drug use.
  • Eat a healthy diet low in fat and high in fiber.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get recommended vaccinations, such as a flu shot.
As well as preventive methods, cancer survivors need a to take responsibility of their health. They must be proactive in their healthcare, take the time to read and research their specific risks and find a great doctor or team to manage their care. It’s important for cancer survivors to keep their appointments and share all of their concerns, aches and pains and issues they may be experiencing.

Here are some important things to remember as a cancer survivor:
  • Education about potential late effects for your specific diagnosis and treatment
  • Screening for and monitoring of late effects
  • Referrals to doctors who specialize in areas of the body affected by late effects
  • Help with treatment-related school and work difficulties
  • Support for emotional issues of survivors, post-traumatic stress syndrome can sneak up years later.
  • Assistance with health insurance and financial issues
It’s important to remember that each one of us are our own are biggest healthcare advocates. Cancer survivor or not, it’s crucial to fight for our right to good health and healthcare.

After all, a cancer survivor has already fought once; this is nothing in comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma at 34 I fell into the AYA cancer group though I didn't feel like an adolescent or young adult. Boy if I knew then what I know now. I agree with all the tips above but I would like to add supplementation to the list- curcumin, fish oil, green tea extract, resveritrol have helped me stay cancer free since '99.

    David Emerson


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