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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer

Musculoskeletal System

Bone and joint

Bone and joint late effects are more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

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

Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments increase the risk of bone and joint late effects.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy can stop or slow the growth of bone. The type of bone and joint late effect depends on the part of the body that received radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may cause any of the following:

Surgery

Amputation or limb-sparing surgery to remove the cancer and prevent it from coming back may cause late effects depending on where the tumor was, age of the patient, and type of surgery. Health problems after amputation or limb-sparing surgery may include:

Studies show no difference in quality of life in childhood cancer survivors who had amputation compared to those who had limb-sparing surgery.

Chemotherapy and other drug therapy

Risk may be increased in childhood cancer survivors who receive anticancer therapy that includes methotrexate or corticosteroids or glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone. Drug therapy may cause any of the following:

Stem cell transplant

A stem cell transplant can affect the bone and joints in different ways:

Possible signs of bone and joint late effects include bone and joint pain.

These symptoms may be caused by bone and joint late effects:

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 bone and joint.

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

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