After treatment for liver cancer you'll have regular follow up appointments and might need to have some tests.
Why you have follow up appointments
You have follow up appointments every few months to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries. The appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you have about your progress.
How often do you have check upsThis depends on your condition and the treatment you've had. You will go back to see your surgeon if you have had surgery to try to cure your liver cancer. If you have had just the area containing the tumour removed (liver resection), you will probably see your surgeon once a month for 3 months, and then every 3 months after that. After a liver transplant, you may see your surgeon:
- weekly for 6 weeks
- fortnightly until 3 months have gone by
- monthly until 6 months have gone by
- every 3 months after that
Of course this is an example and the follow up schedule will be worked out according to your particular needs.
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.
You'll probably have a blood test for the marker AFP at every visit if you've had a hepatocellular cancer (HCC). You may also have blood tests that measure how well your liver is working (liver function tests). Other tests may include:
- CT scan
- ultrasound scans
You won't have all these tests at every visit to your specialist.They may only arrange scans if you have a new symptom or if there's something specific that needs checking. After liver surgery it's usual to have a CT scan every year.
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.