The patient’s care does not terminate when active cancer treatment is completed. Your medical team will continue to screen for cancer recurrence, manage any side effects, and keep an eye on your overall health. This is referred to as follow-up care. Regular physical examinations, medical testing, or both may be part of your follow-up care. Doctors will monitor your progress in the months and years ahead.
Although research into techniques to prevent second malignancies and recurrent HCC is progressing, there is no standard prevention method. Physical therapy, career counselling, pain management, nutritional planning, and emotional counselling are some therapies that may be advised for cancer rehabilitation.
Keeping an eye out for a recurrence
Checking for a recurrence, which suggests cancer has returned, is one purpose of follow-up care. Because small pockets of cancer cells may go undetected in the body, cancer can reoccur. These cells may grow in quantity over time until they appear on test results or create signs or symptoms.
A doctor familiar with your medical history can provide you with personalised information regarding your risk of recurrence during follow-up care. Your doctor will inquire about your health in detail. Some people may have blood tests or imaging tests as routine follow-up care. Still, testing recommendations are based on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer diagnosed at the time of treatment and the type of treatment received.
You or a family member may experience stress due to the expectation of a follow-up test or the waiting for test results. This is referred to as “scan-xiety.” Although research into techniques to prevent second malignancies and recurrent HCC is progressing, there is no standard prevention method.
Long-term and late side effects management
When receiving therapy, most patients expect to encounter side effects. Survivors are frequently surprised to learn that some adverse effects might last well beyond the treatment time. Long-term side effects are what they’re called. Other side effects, known as late effects, can appear months or even years later. Physical and emotional changes can have long-term and late impacts.
Discuss your chance of having such side effects with your doctor, considering the type of cancer you have, your treatment plan, and your overall health. You might have specific physical examinations, scans, or blood tests to assist discover and manage late effects if you had a therapy known to produce them.
Keeping track of personal health information
Together, you and your doctor should create a specific follow-up care plan. Make sure to bring up any concerns you have about your physical or emotional health in the future. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) provides tools to assist you to keep track of your cancer treatment and build a survivorship care plan once your treatment is finished.
This is also an excellent moment to discuss with your doctor, who will be in charge of your follow-up treatment. Some cancer survivors continue to see their oncologist, while others return to their primary care physician or another health care provider. The type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and your personal preferences all play a role in this decision.
If your follow-up care is overseen by a doctor who was not directly involved in your cancer treatment, make sure you share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them, as well as all future health care providers. The health care providers who will look after you for the rest of your life will need to know specifics about your cancer treatment.