The overall 5-year survival rate of children with cancer has now reached 77%, an increase of about 45% in the past 25 years. Newer therapies, including hematopoietic cell transplantation and cutting edge chemotherapeutics evolving in the form of molecular and biological cell targeted agents, are being researched and developed and are responsible for the change in survival rates over time. Also, despite the national trend toward hospice and palliative care, children with chronic and life threatening illnesses, continue to die in the hospital setting, often in the intensive care unit. Previous studies of children with complications of cancer and its therapy document poor outcomes among those who do require intensive care. These trends are changing, however, currently leaving a hopeful, optimistic view of the outcome in children with cancer complications admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. It is imperative that nurses and intensive care staff understand pediatric cancer and its potential emergent consequences in order to respond to the symptoms of life threatening events.

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