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In medicine, a late effect is a condition that appears after the acute phase of an earlier, causal condition has run its course. A late effect can be caused directly by the earlier condition, or indirectly by the treatment for the earlier condition. Some late effects can occur decades later. Historically, late effects have been very difficult to connect with their causes, but as survivorship and life span has increased and "follow up" has become standard practice, these connections are becoming established.
- Chickenpox may be followed decades later by herpes zoster: see herpes zoster
- Chemotherapy to cure a cancer may result years later in another, unrelated cancer
- Female survivors of childhood leukemia treated with cranial radiation therapy may be unable to breastfeed because they do not lactate
- Johnston K, Vowels M, Carroll S, Neville K, Cohn R (2007). Failure to lactate: A possible late effect of cranial radiation.. Pediatr Blood Cancer 50 (3): 721.
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