Head and Neck Cancer - Causes

As a survivor of head or neck cancer, please describe your follow-up treatments.

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Is follow-up treatment necessary? What does it involve?

Regular follow-up care is very important after treatment for head and neck cancer to make sure the cancer has not returned, or that a second primary (new) cancer has not developed. Depending on the type of cancer, medical checkups could include exams of the stoma, mouth, neck, and throat. Regular dental exams may also be necessary. From time to time, the doctor may perform a complete physical exam, blood tests, X-rays, and CT, PET, or MRI scans. The doctor may continue to monitor thyroid and pituitary gland function with blood tests, especially if the head or neck was treated with radiation. Also, the doctor is likely to counsel patients to stop smoking. Research has shown that continued smoking may reduce the effectiveness of treatment and increase the chance of a second primary cancer. The NCI fact sheet Follow-up Care: Questions and Answers has more information about this topic.

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