Surviving Cancer (cont.)
In this Article
What is Follow-Up Care?
The main purpose of follow-up care is to check if your cancer has returned (recurrence) or if it has spread to another part of your body (metastasis). Follow-up care can also help in:
Follow-up care means seeing a doctor to get regular medical checkups. At these visits, your doctor will:
Your doctor may run follow-up tests:
Follow-up care can also include home care, occupational or vocational therapy, pain management, physical therapy, and support groups.
Which Doctor Should I See and How Often?
Depending on where you live, it may make more sense to get cancer follow-up care from your family doctor than to travel long distances to see an oncologist. No matter whom you choose as a doctor, try to find doctors you feel comfortable with.
At your first follow-up visit, ask your doctor to recommend a follow-up schedule. In general, people who have been treated for cancer return to the doctor every 3 to 4 months during the first 2 to 3 years after treatment, and once or twice a year after that for follow-up appointments. Some medical organizations also have follow-up guidelines for certain cancers and update this information as researchers develop new approaches to follow-up care.
Follow-up care will be different for each person who has been treated for cancer, depending on the type of cancer and treatment he or she had and the person's general health. Researchers are still learning about the best approaches to follow-up care. This is why it is important that your doctor help determine what follow-up care plan is right for you. Lastly, it is important to note that some insurance plans pay for follow-up care only with certain doctors and for a set number of visits. In planning your follow-up care schedule, you may want to check your health insurance plan to see what restrictions, if any, apply to your follow-up care after cancer treatment.
Keep in Mind
Do You Have Trouble Talking to Your Doctor
Talking with your doctor is important. Both of you need information to manage your care. Telling the doctor about your health and asking questions helps both of you do your "jobs" well. Here are some points to cover.
At your first follow-up visit, ask your doctor/health care team about:
Keep in Mind
There are many types of symptoms that may show if cancer has returned, and it depends on each person, the kind of cancer she/he was treated for, and the kind of treatment he/she had.
It is for this reason that you should talk to your doctor about the signs or symptoms that you should watch for and what you should do about them.
At each visit, tell your doctor/health care team about:
Your health care team should be able to help you or refer you to someone who can help with any side effects or problems you may have. You have a right to get the help you need.
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Surviving Cancer - Experience Question: Are you a cancer survivor? Please describe your experience, including treatment and follow-up.