The fight against cancer does not end with the end of active cancer treatment.
There are chances that cancer may come back. To avoid such a scenario, it becomes essential for you to regularly follow-up with your oncologist.
Your oncologist will monitor your progress, help you manage your side-effects, and screen you regularly to keep a check for relapse.
Follow-up care plan
You and your oncologist will together develop a personalized follow-up care plan.
This plan will help you monitor your health for the months and years that follow. It includes regular physical examinations and medical tests.
Usually, the plan is based on medical guidelines for a specific diagnosis and alsoyour individual needs and preferences.
Having follow-up care helps cancer survivors feel in control as they transition back into their normal lives.
A proper medical support system is necessary for maintaining physical and emotional health.
How will a follow-up care plan help?
Many of us often wonder why we need to follow-up with our oncologist once the treatment is over.
Well, read on to understand the importance of a follow-up care plan after cancer treatment.
Checking for recurrence
The main aim of follow-up care is checking for a recurrence. Sometimes, cancer may recur as some areas with cancer cells may remain undetected in the body.
They later increase in number and are detected on test results or cause signs or symptoms.
The probability of cancer recurring depends on the type of cancer you were diagnosed with.
Your oncologist can suggest ways to minimize this risk. He may also tell you to watch for specific signs or symptoms of recurrence.
During follow-up visits, your doctor will ask questions regarding your health. Sometimesyou may have blood tests or imaging tests as part of your regular follow-up care.
Managing side effects
Generally, you experience side effects while receiving cancer treatment. However, some side effects may linger beyond the treatment period and are called long-term side-effects.
On the other hand, some side-effects may develop months or even years after cancer treatment ends. These are called late side-effects.
The chances of developing them will depend on the type of cancer, your treatment plan, and your overall health.
Your doctor may recommend certain tests if you are at risk of developing some specific side-effects. The tests may include:
- Annual thyroid examinations if you had radiation therapy to the head, neck, or throat.
- Lung function tests if you have undergone a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. It shows the lungs’ capacity to hold the air and how fast it can move in and out of it.
- Electrocardiograms if you have received radiation therapy to the chestandhigh doses of chemotherapy known to affect heart functioning.
- Mammogram for women who had radiation therapy to the chest when they were young.
- Regular imaging tests include x-rays, CT scans, or blood tests to watch for recurrent cancer.
Schedule for your follow-up care
Every patient has a different schedule for follow-up care. How often you return for follow-up visits is based on:
- Type of cancer
- The treatment you underwent
- Your health and treatment-related problems
Generally, people come for follow-up appointments every 3-4 months during the first 2-3 years after cancer treatment, and once or twice a year after that.
Common but useful tips for cancer survivors
- Quit smoking
- Avoid or minimize the intake of alcohol
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active and exercise
Also, maintain your personal health records, which include information about your diagnosis, treatment plan, and follow-up care, as it is vital for doctors who will treat you throughout your lifetime.
For more information and guidance about your follow-up treatment care plan,visit the leading oncologist in India. Proper care can help you win your fight against cancer.