What Is Remission?

Remission is a period of time when cancer is under control. Remission can be:

  • "partial," which means the cancer is responding well to treatment
  • "complete," which means the cancer is no longer detectable by doctors' tests
  • "cured," which is when cancer has been in complete remission for several years

Kids in remission are likely to feel better, eat better, and have more energy. Emotionally, kids and their families feel more relaxed and begin to enjoy life more.

What Follow-Up Care Should My Child Have?

Your child's oncologist will recommend a schedule of follow-up care that might include the doctor doing exams, blood tests, and imaging tests. Stick to this schedule, even if your child seems perfectly well and has no symptoms whatsoever. This careful monitoring is the best way to find out about and treat any possible problems — whether related to the cancer or the late effects of treatment — as early as possible.

As kids get older and start to manage their own medical care, provide them with all of their medical records so that they can continue their scheduled follow-up visits.

How Can I Stay Connected With My Child's Health?

Ask your child to tell you whenever he or she isn't feeling well or something just doesn't seem right.

Many kids in remission often wait to tell their parents if they're not feeling well, for fear that the cancer has come back. Reassure your child that most kids in remission stay that way and are eventually cured of the cancer. Like everyone else, they're likely to get colds and bouts of sickness from time to time, but if the illness is something more than that, it's best to see a doctor early on.

Why Is Health Eating Important?

Now that your child's appetite is coming back and many of the unpleasant side effects of treatment are easing, it's important to make healthy eating a priority. A well-balanced diet can help your child regain strength and repair the tissue damage caused by chemotherapy, radiation, or both.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, of all kinds and colors.
  • Select high-quality proteins, such as lean meats, fish, nuts, and eggs.
  • Choose foods rich in fiber, like whole-wheat pastas, breads, cereals, and rice.
  • Cut down on fat by switching to low-fat milk and yogurt, and by baking, broiling, or grilling foods instead of frying them.
  • Avoid processed foods, which can be loaded with salt, fat, and chemical preservatives.
  • Offer plenty of water and keep soda to a minimum.

If you're unsure about where to start, ask your doctor to put you in touch with a dietitian who can help you develop a family meal plan that works for everyone.

Can My Child Exercise?

Your child can exercise, but may have to take it slowly at first. It's a good idea to start with 20 or 30 minutes of exercise each day and work up to the goal of 60 minutes at least 5 days a week. (Strength training and flexibility training are great to include in these workouts.)

When your child is feeling better, ask the doctor if and when your child can return to any sports played before the cancer diagnosis.

Is Sun Exposure Safe?

It's OK to be in the sun for short periods — at the right times and with the right protection. Whenever out in the sun, your child should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Tanning beds must be avoided as they can cause skin damage that can eventually lead to cancer.

For older kids, it's particularly important that they learn how to check their own skin for any new growths or moles that look different in color, shape, or size.

How Can We Stay Positive?

Even after cancer, most kids can return to their friends and activities, some even happier than before because they realize how the things we take for granted can often change in an instant.

Sometimes the fear of the cancer coming back may creep into your or your child's thoughts.  Having this concern is not unusual. If you find it happening, try positive imagery, deep breathing and other helpful tools you've learned. Remember that you and your family got through the all of the treatment and you're moving ahead.

If you or your child are struggling with worry, ask your health care team about getting help from a counselor.

Even though you can't predict the future, you can still make the here and now the best it can be for your child.

Back to Articles

Related Articles

Nutritional Needs for Kids With Cancer

Eating as well as possible and staying hydrated can help kids undergoing cancer treatment keep up their strength and deal with side effects. These tips can help.

Read More

Late Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatment

Long-term side effects, or late effects, happen to many cancer survivors. With early diagnosis and proper follow-up care, most late effects can be treated or cured.

Read More

Giving Teens a Voice in Health Care Decisions

Involving teens in their health care can help prepare them for managing it on their own as adults.

Read More

Healthy Eating

Good nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.

Read More

Kids and Exercise

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.

Read More

Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating Right

Want to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods!

Read More

MyPlate Food Guide

MyPlate is designed to make it easier to understand healthy eating.

Read More

Why Exercise Is Wise

Exercise can help keep a kid's body fit and healthy. Learn more about what exercise can do for you in this article for kids.

Read More

Smart Snacking

Healthy snacks are essential for busy teens. Find out how eating nutritious snacks throughout the day can keep your energy level high and your mind alert.

Read More

Childhood Cancer

Different kinds of childhood cancer have different signs, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. But today, most kids with cancer get better.

Read More

Cancer: Readjusting to Home and School

If you've just finished a long hospital stay, you may have questions about reconnecting with friends and family. Get answers in this article for teens.

Read More

Dealing With Cancer

It's unusual for teens to have cancer, but it can happen. The good news is that most will survive and return to their everyday lives. Learn about how to cope if you or someone you know has cancer.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.