Find out about follow up appointments and tests after treatment for bone cancer.
This page is about cancer that starts in your bone (primary bone cancer).
If your cancer has spread into bone from another part of the body, it is called secondary bone cancer.
Why you have follow up appointments
You have follow up appointments to check how you are and whether you have any problems or worries. They also give you the opportunity to raise any concerns you have about your progress.
Your doctor or nurse examines you at each appointment. They ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms or side effects and if you are worried about anything.
You might also have tests at some visits.
Tests might include:
You will have regular chest x-rays if you have had osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma or Ewing's sarcoma. This is because these types of bone cancer can spread to the lungs.
You might have blood tests for a protein called alkaline phosphatase (ALP) if you have had osteosarcoma. ALP is a chemical made by bone cells that can be picked up in the blood. Some people with osteosarcoma have higher levels of ALP in their blood. The test can be used to check for the cancer coming back if you had a rasied ALP when you were first diagnosed.
CT or MRI scans
You're not likely to have CT scans or MRI scans as part of your routine follow up. But you might have them if you have new symptoms. Or if your chest x-ray or blood test shows there is a possibility your cancer may have come back.
How often you have check ups
For the first couple of years you are likely to have check ups every 3 months.
If all is well you might go to 6 monthly appointments until you reach 5 years.
After that you are only likely to need yearly check ups.
You might go for check ups at the surgical outpatients after surgery. You go to the cancer clinic if you have had chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The surgeon and the oncologist might share your follow up. This means you see the surgeon sometimes and the oncologist at other times.
Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms between appointments. You don’t have to wait until your next visit.
If you are worried
Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring back any anxiety you had about your cancer.
It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment.