Life After Treatment

Macmillan Cancer Support

After your main treatment ends, you usually still see your cancer team for regular check-ups. This is called follow-up care. How often you see them depends on different things, including:

  • the type and stage of the cancer
  • the treatment you have had
  • your needs and wishes
  • the arrangements at the hospital you go to. 

You may feel worried before an appointment. Going back to hospital can be a difficult reminder of what you have been through. But it can also be a positive reminder that you are getting back to everyday life. People are often reassured after their visit.

Types of follow-up care

There are different types of follow-up care. You usually have follow-up care at the hospital. This is usually with someone from your cancer team. These appointments may happen every few months in the first year after your treatment. 

You may be asked to have a blood test or scan before an appointment. This helps make sure your results are available for the appointment. If you are not sure if this is needed, ask your cancer nurse or GP.

You will have fewer check-ups after the first year. You may not need to go to the hospital in the future. You may have your follow-up care over the phone with a specialist nurse, instead of at a clinic. You may also have some follow-up care with your GP. Your cancer team will discuss your follow-up care with you. You can decide together what is best for you.

Your follow-up appointment

The aim of this cancer follow-up appointment is to make sure everything is going well for you. It is also a chance for you to talk about any concerns you may have. The appointment helps your cancer doctor or nurse notice any possible problems early. They may examine you and do some simple tests, such as taking a blood sample. They will usually ask questions about your recovery and any side effects or symptoms you have.

It is very important to go to your appointments. If you cannot go because you are not feeling well, tell the clinic. They can arrange another appointment for you.

Your cancer team can refer you to other services if you need specialist help. For example, they may refer you to a psychologist or counsellor for emotional help, or a physiotherapist for advice about exercising.

Tips for getting the most from your appointment

  • Write down any questions before your appointment. You can also write down the answers to help you remember them.
  • Take someone with you. They can support you and can help you remember what was said.
  • Always tell your cancer doctor or nurse about any ongoing or new symptoms, or other health worries.
  • Tell them how you are coping with your feelings. They can give you advice or direct you to the right place for support.
  • Tell them if you are taking any prescribed or non-prescribed medicines. This includes vitamins, minerals, or herbal or complementary medicines. Sometimes these can affect other drugs, including some cancer treatments.
  • Be honest with your cancer team. This helps them to give you the best support.

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