Find out about follow up appointments and tests after treatment for prostate 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.
You usually have a blood test to monitor your prostate specific antigen (PSA) level.
Depending on your PSA level, you might have a prostate examination. The doctor puts a gloved finger into your back passage (digital rectal examination).
You might have an MRI or bone scan.
How often you have check ups
Treatment to cure your cancer
Your first check up is usually at least 6 weeks after treatment. Then, your check ups will be every 6 months for 2 years. And once a year after that.
To begin with, you usually go for check ups at the hospital outpatients. After 2 years, you might have your appointments with your GP. Instead of seeing the doctor in a clinic, you might be able to have a telephone consultation.
Monitoring your cancer
If the doctors are monitoring your cancer to see if it grows (active surveillance or watchful waiting) you have a check up at least once a year.
For watchful waiting you usually have this with your GP. For active surveillance, you see your specialist doctor.
If your cancer is advanced, you might see the doctor more often. This depends on your symptoms and what treatment you are having.
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.
Patient led follow up
Some hospitals are trying out a new way of running their check ups. This system leaves it to you to take the lead in arranging to see your doctor or specialist nurse.
When you first finish treatment, your hospital arranges your appointments. But once your doctors are happy with your progress you can arrange them yourself. You can do this as often as you feel you need to.
You might want to make an appointment if you:
- have noticed a change in your body that worries you
- feel it is time you had a check up, even though you don't have any particular worries
In some situations, your specialist will ask you to book in for a particular test every so often.
This system means you can organise appointments to suit your own health needs. It also means that clinics aren’t full of people who might not need to see their doctor. This helps the hospital to keep waiting times short, so you can get an appointment quickly when you need one.