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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer

Endocrine System

Thyroid gland

Thyroid late effects are more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause thyroid late effects:

Radiation therapy to the head and neck increases the risk of thyroid late effects.

The risk of thyroid late effects may be increased in childhood cancer survivors after treatment with any of the following:

The risk also is increased in females, in survivors who were a young age at the time of treatment, and as the time since treatment gets longer.

Late effects that affect the thyroid may cause certain health problems.

Thyroid late effects include the following:

Signs of thyroid late effects depend on whether there is too little or too much thyroid hormone in the body.

These symptoms may be caused by thyroid late effects:

Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone)

Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone)

Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these problems.

Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose health problems in the thyroid.

These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose thyroid late effects:

Talk to your doctor about whether you need to have tests and procedures to check for signs of thyroid late effects. If you do, find out how often they should be done.

Pituitary gland

Neuroendocrine late effects may be caused after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

The neuroendocrine system is the nervous system and the endocrine system working together. Certain nerves (the nervous system) cause hormones to be released (the endocrine system) into the blood. Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause neuroendocrine late effects:

Radiation therapy to the hypothalamus increases the risk of neuroendocrine system late effects.

Childhood cancer survivors are at risk for neuroendocrine late effects. These effects are caused by radiation therapy to the brain in the area of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls the way hormones are made by the pituitary gland. Radiation therapy may be given to treat cancer near the hypothalamus or as total-body irradiation (TBI) before a stem cell transplant.

Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with radiation to the brain may have low levels of any of the following pituitary hormones:

Late effects that affect the hypothalamus may cause certain health problems.

Neuroendocrine late effects include the following:

Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose health problems in the neuroendocrine system.

These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose thyroid late effects:

Talk to your doctor about whether you need to have tests and procedures to check for signs of neuroendocrine late effects. If you do, find out how often they should be done.

Testicles and ovary

See the Reproductive System section of this summary for information about late effects in the testicles and ovaries.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that includes having too much fat around the abdomen and two of the following:

Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause metabolic syndrome to occur later in life:

Radiation therapy to the brain and total-body irradiation (TBI) as part of a stem cell transplant increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome may cause the survivor to have a shorter adult height.

Childhood cancer survivors who received radiation to the brain or had a stem cell transplant are at risk for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome may cause low levels of growth hormone, which helps promote growth and control metabolism. This may cause the survivor to be shorter than normal.

Obesity and body fat

Obesity is a late effect that is more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause obesity:

Obesity may be measured by weight, body mass index, percent of body fat, or size of the abdomen (belly fat).

Radiation therapy to the brain increases the risk of obesity.

The risk of obesity increases after treatment with the following:

The following may also increase the risk of obesity:

Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose obesity.

These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose obesity:

Talk to your doctor about whether you need to have tests and procedures to check for signs of obesity. If you do, find out how often they should be done.