When your cancer treatment finishes, you still need regular follow-up.
These check-ups are to see how you are physically and emotionally. You should also have a survivorship plan which includes a treatment summary and a follow-up plan.
People are often relieved to reach the end of treatment, but it can also be a time of uncertainty. Having cancer can change how you feel in many ways, and it can take time to adjust.
What you need to know
Follow-up after treatment
After initial treatment, each person’s situation is different. For some, their cancer has gone and they are trying to go back to their old life. For others, they still have cancer which needs to be managed.
Follow-up after treatment is important. It is used to:
- discuss any symptoms or side effects you have
- review any ongoing treatment and change it if necessary
- decide if you need to see any other health professionals
- check whether the original cancer has come back or got worse
- check for signs of any new cancer
- see how you are coping mentally and physically, and whether you need more support.
The information you need should be put together in a survivorship plan. If you don’t have a plan, ask your specialist how to get one.
A survivorship plan usually includes:
- a treatment summary, which includes information about your cancer and how it was treated
- a follow-up plan, which describes any problems you have from your cancer or treatment, and what follow-up tests and appointments are planned for you.
The plan provides accurate information about your cancer for the health professionals who see you. It also means that you have this information if you need it in the future, for example if you move to a new area and have to see different doctors.
What to ask or talk about
Who to see and when
It is important to know who you need to see and how often. Your specialist should tell you this before you finish treatment.
The specialist will tell you when to make a follow-up appointment and whether you need any tests before the appointment. Most people need regular tests after treatment
You should also book in to see your GP after your treatment finishes. Your GP is still the person to see about your general health, and any problems you have between specialist visits. In some cases, your follow-up care may be shared between your GP and specialist.
When you see your specialist or GP, ask who to contact if you have any concerns about your health. They may advise you to see other health professionals, like a social worker or a dietitian.
Concerns when treatment finishes
The time when treatment finishes can be difficult. People go from regular contact with their treating team to much less contact. Some people feel abandoned, and it can take a while to adjust.
Other people may think you should be happy to have finished treatment, but you may have very different feelings. It can be hard to talk about how you feel.