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Health Information For Parents
The word steroid might make you think of “roid rage” or side effects in athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders who use them. But if your doctor prescribed a steroid as part of your child’s cancer treatment, don’t worry. It’s not “that” kind of steroid. It’s an important cancer medicine.
Steroids are chemicals made normally by the body. Other steroids are manmade medicines. Both have many different jobs and help organs work properly. The most common steroids used include:
Steroids can reduce
(irritation and swelling) in the body. Sometimes they lower the body’s ability to fight infection.
Steroids can help with cancer treatment in a variety of ways. They can:
Steroids used in medical treatments can have some side effects. Talk to your child’s doctor and ask questions if you have concerns.
Your child may not have any side effects. But if they do happen, they’ll only last as long as he or she takes the steroids. When treatment stops, things will return to normal pretty quickly.
Some of the more common side effects of steroid treatments include:
Less common side effects include trouble fighting infections, acne flare-ups, and increased facial hair.
Doctors can prescribe steroids for cancer treatment in several ways:
The doctors will give you all the details, but there are some things to remember when your child takes steroids by mouth for cancer treatment. Steroids, both the liquid and the pill form, have a bitter somewhat unpleasant taste.
To make sure your child doesn’t miss any doses:
Steroids can irritate the stomach. To protect it, your child should take them with food in the stomach. The doctor might recommend stomach medicines, either prescribed or over the counter (such as Zantac, Pepcid, or Prilosec). It might help for your child to start taking these medicines a couple of days before the steroids begin and to continue taking them for a few days after the steroids are done.
Don’t stop the steroids without your doctor’s advice. If you notice anything strange while your child takes the steroids, tell the doctor right away. Sometimes, steroid medicine is decreased slowly over time (described as being weaned or tapered). Other times doctors may just stop the steroids. If this happens, your child’s body could go through a type of withdrawal if it’s placed under a stressful situation like a new fever or infection.
Your child might have a steroid card or medical alert bracelet. A lot of steroid treatments happen in a doctor’s office or clinic. But some kids and teens on long-term steroid treatment take pills at home. They might have a steroid card or wear a medical alert bracelet. Your child should keep this card on hand or wear the medical alert bracelet at all times. If there’s an emergency, the card or bracelet will let doctors know about the steroids, which can change the treatment they give.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, irradiation, or X-ray therapy, is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment.
If your doctor prescribed steroids as part of your treatment for an illness, don’t worry. It’s not the illegal, doping scandal kind of steroid. Get the details in this article for teens.
Get the facts about steroids, their side effects, and what can drive kids and teens to try them.
Taking care of a chronically ill child is one of the most draining and difficult tasks a parent can face. But support groups, social workers, and family friends often can help.
These cancers are the most common type of cancer in children. When discovered early, they often can be cured.
Different kinds of childhood cancer have different signs, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. But today, most kids with cancer get better.
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.
Check out our cancer glossary for lots of easy-to-read definitions.
Brain tumors are the second most common group of childhood cancers. Treatment requires a very specialized plan involving a team of medical specialists.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells.
It’s normal for kids to have hair loss, skin changes, or weight gain during treatment. This article offers tips for helping kids feel better about their appearance.
While some cancer treatments have little to no effect on reproductive health, others are more likely cause temporary or permanent infertility.
Get the basics on cancer and cancer treatments in this article.
Chemotherapy is a big word for treatment with medicines used to help people who have cancer. This medicine kills the cancer cells that are making the person sick.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells. Find out how chemo works and what to expect when getting treatment.
More than half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy. Get the facts on radiation therapy, including what it is, what to expect, and how to cope with side effects.
When kids get cancer, it can often be treated and cured. Find out more in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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