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Follow up

You may have regular follow up appointments with your doctor or specialist nurse. Or you might decide to only have an appointment if you have any problems or develop a new symptom.

Why you have follow up appointments

After treatment for CUP, you might have follow up appointments with your doctor or specialist nurse. This is to see how you are and if you have any problems or worries. You can talk to them about any side effects you might have from treatment, or if you have any new symptoms.

In some cases, where the aim of treatment was to cure your cancer, you might have regular follow up appointments to check for any signs of the cancer coming back.

How often you have them

Whether you need check ups and how often varies, depending on your situation.

You might have regular check ups after treatment. For example, this might be every 1 to 2 months for the first few years if you had treatment for cancer that had spread to only the lymph nodes in your neck.

Your doctor uses these appointments to check for evidence that the cancer started in the head or neck (the primary tumour). They can also check for signs of the cancer coming back. Some of these head and neck cancers can be cured.

For secondary cancer in other areas of the body, you might have check ups less often.

You might decide to only have an appointment if new symptoms develop. Your specialist nurse, doctor or GP can help you make decisions about this. Depending on the situation, they may refer you to a local symptom control team to give you support and help you with symptoms, such as pain.

What happens

Your doctor or specialist nurse usually 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.

Depending on the situation, they might look for any signs of the cancer coming back or growing again. You might have tests at some visits, including:

  • blood tests
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • PET scans
  • x-rays

Your doctor might continue to look for the site of the primary cancer. If it’s found, there may be new opportunities for treatment that could control your cancer for longer.

Between appointments

Contact your GP, your cancer doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns between appointments. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms. You don’t have to wait until your next booked appointment.

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Your specialist nurse can also help support you and your family.

Many people find it helpful to have counselling after treatment for cancer.

You can also find people to share experiences with by using our online forum, Cancer Chat.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.