Childhood Cancer

Childhood Cancer Survivors

Chapter 8. Brain and Nerves

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

THE NERVOUS SYSTEM in the body has two main parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) is composed of the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves throughout the body. The CNS and peripheral nervous system work together to monitor, coordinate, and control all activities of the body. Changes in the functioning of the brain or nerves can profoundly affect both health and quality of life.

As the number of survivors who have received treatment affecting the nervous system increases, more is being learned about long-term effects on the CNS. These effects can impact survivors’ education, social lives, relationships, and job performance.

This chapter discusses the treatments that can cause changes in the brain and nerves. It lists signs and symptoms, discusses how to screen for these effects, and looks at how they can be medically managed.