Survivorship Questions

  • What is follow-up cancer care, and why is it important?
    • Follow-up cancer care involves regular medical checkups that include a review of a patient's medical history and a physical exam. Follow-up care is important because it helps to identify changes in health. The purpose of follow-up care is to check for recurrence (the return of cancer in the primary site) or metastasis (the spread of cancer to another part of the body). Follow-up care visits are also important to help in the prevention or early detection of other types of cancer, address ongoing problems due to cancer or its treatment, and check for physical and emotional effects that may develop months or years after treatment ends. All cancer survivors should have follow-up care.
  • What should I discuss with my TCI care team?
    • During each visit, you should tell a member of your TCI care team about:
      • Any symptoms that you think may be a sign that your cancer has returned
      • Any pain that bothers you
      • Any physical problems that interfere with daily life or are bothersome, such as fatigue; difficulty with bladder, bowel, or sexual function; difficulty concentrating; memory changes; trouble sleeping; and weight gain or loss
      • Any medicines, vitamins, or herbs you are taking and any other treatments you are using
      • Any emotional problems you are experiencing, such as anxiety or depression
      • Any changes in your family medical history, including any new cancers
  • How are follow-up care schedules planned?
    • The frequency and nature of follow-up care are individualized based on the type of cancer, the type of treatment received, and your overall health, including possible treatment-related problems. In general, you may return to the physician for follow-up appointments every three to four months during the first two to three years after treatment, and once or twice a year after that.
  • What kinds of medical information should I keep?
    • It is important for you to keep a copy of your cancer treatment records. Ideally, this should include a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan from your physician. Patients may not always see the same physician for their follow-up care, so having this information available to share with another physician can be helpful. In particular, it is important to keep the following information:
      • Results of any diagnostic testing
      • Specific type of cancer (diagnosis)
      • Date(s) of cancer diagnosis
      • Details of all cancer treatment, including the places and dates where treatment was received (for example, type and dates of all surgeries; names and doses of all drugs; sites and total amounts of radiation therapy)
      • Contact information for all physicians and other health professionals involved in treatment and follow-up care
      • Side effects and complications that occurred during and after treatment
      • Supportive care received (for example, pain or nausea medication, emotional support, and nutritional supplements)
      • Identifying number and title of clinical trial (research study), if you participated in a clinical trial