January 11, 2022
The care for cancer patients continues even after the completion of treatment. This is largely because, at times, cancer can come back. Regular follow-ups can help you in catching the relapses in their early stages and also support a better quality of life after the treatment.?
After treatment, the doctor develops a follow-up care plan for the patient to monitor health.
Follow-Up Care after Cancer Treatment
Follow-up care after cancer treatment is an essential part of the overall cancer management strategy. It helps to monitor the cancer recurrence and manage treatment-induced side effects. It also helps improve the outcomes of cancer and reduces the rate of rehospitalisation.
Different Types of Follow-Up Care
If you are free from cancer after treatment, you have to stick to a follow-up care plan. There are different types of follow-up care, depending upon the facilities available with your healthcare provider:
- Follow-up care at hospital : This follow-up care is at the hospital. If the doctor needs to conduct tests to monitor your health, he/she may ask you to visit the hospital. If your follow-up care plan involves seeing the psychologist or counsellor, you must visit their clinic.
- Follow-up care through telephone : In some cases, the staff specialised in cancer care may give you a call to check your health status. Follow-up care through telephone helps in bringing down the number of hospital visits and reducing anxiety among patients. The staff may ask you if you are experiencing any symptoms or side effects. If you have any concerns related to your health, you can share them during the call.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FOLLOW-UP CARE
- Ask for a follow-up care plan : After the completion of the treatment, i.e. surgery, radiation therapy, or all the cycles of chemotherapy, you must ask for a follow-up care plan from the doctor and medical staff at the hospital. The doctor will provide you with a customised plan depending on type and stage of cancer along with your overall health condition. The follow-up care plan includes the frequency of hospital visits, type of examinations, and medical tests. Discuss your preferences with the doctor regarding follow-up care. The doctor may consider your choices if possible. Understand your plan in great detail, and if you have any questions, ask them.
- Never miss the scheduled follow-up visit : It is essential to visit the doctor regularly for follow-up care. Never miss any scheduled appointment and always follow your doctor’s instructions. During the follow-up care visit, the doctor will comprehensively examine your health and look for any symptoms that may indicate the cancer recurrence. The doctor may ask you to undergo tests if needed.
- Cooperate with your healthcare provider : Cooperation with your healthcare provider is the key to maintaining a healthy and cancer-free life. During the follow-up care, the guidelines provided by the doctor are not enough. You must actively participate in following those guidelines. Follow-up care is extremely essential for patients to return to the best state of health possible. You must ask your doctor questions to take care of your health at home. Take advice from your doctor if there is any need to consult with the doctors of other specialities.
Report your symptoms to the doctor : Never ignore any signs and immediately report to your doctor. Do not wait for the date of the scheduled follow-up visit. According to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, the recovering patients must report the following symptoms to the doctor:
- Pain, mainly when it occurs at the prior cancer site
- Lumps or swelling
- Difficult to treat fever and cough
- Fatigue, weight gain, weight loss or loss of appetite
- Anxiety and depression
- Any other symptoms, which cause the patient to think that cancer has come back
It is necessary to take advice from your doctor before starting any medications or health supplements. You should also inform the healthcare provider if any other person in your family is recently diagnosed with similar or any other type of cancer
- Take good care of your body : Your body goes into the recovery phase after the physical and emotional stress due to cancer and its treatment. It is crucial that you should take good care of your health and lead a healthy life. You must quit smoking as it may cause cancer to recur. Avoid or limit the consumption of alcohol. Incorporate protein, whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruits into your diet. You could consider consulting an onco-dietician, who can help you know about the right foods to take after your cancer treatment. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. It will help in reducing anxiety and depression and enhancing self-esteem. Initiate with less strenuous exercise and gradually increase the activity.
- Management of treatment side-effects : In most cases, cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, cause side effects. However, some of the side effects of the treatment may continue or appear even after you are free from cancer. It would be best to learn to manage these side effects with frequent consultation with your doctor. These side effects may be both short-term and long-term and may cause various emotional and physical changes. If your doctor is convinced that you may have some late-side effects caused due to treatment, he may advise you to undergo some tests. These tests include lung function tests, electrocardiograms, thyroid function tests, blood tests, mammography and CT scans.
Follow-up care after cancer treatment improves the overall quality of life of the patient. The patients should understand every aspect of follow-up care. In case of any doubt, the patients should ask questions from the healthcare provider. In addition, the patient must monitor the symptoms and take care of his overall health.