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Follow up for cancer of the larynx

Men and women discussing laryngeal cancer

This page tells you about follow up appointments after treatment for laryngeal cancer. There are sections about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Follow up for laryngeal cancer

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. To start with, these are to make sure you are recovering from your treatment. Later on, your doctor will be looking for signs of long term side effects from your treatment, and checking for any sign that the cancer has come back. You may need to come back to hospital to see the speech therapist if you have had your voice box removed.

Having your check ups

Your specialist will examine you at each appointment. You may have an examination with a flexible nasoendoscopy. You will usually only have other tests if there is a concern about your health. Your doctor will ask how you are feeling, and whether you have had any new symptoms or are worried about anything.

At first, your check ups will be every few weeks. If you stay well, they will gradually become less and less frequent. If you are worried or notice any new symptoms between appointments, let your doctor know. You don’t have to wait until your next appointment.

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. They can bring back all the worry about your cancer. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, a hospital appointment can bring back all the worry of your cancer. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. If you are able to share your worries, they may not seem quite so bad. 

It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. If you could like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family, look for counselling organisations. To find out more look at our section on counselling

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating laryngeal cancer section.

 

Why you have follow up appointments

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. To start with, these are to make sure you are recovering from the treatment you have had. Later on, your doctor will be looking for signs of long term side effects from your treatment, and most importantly, checking for any sign that the cancer has come back.

You may need to come back to hospital to see the speech therapist if you have had your voice box removed. You can arrange this through your specialist or nurse when you attend the outpatient clinic. If you have a check up coming up and would like to see a speech therapist at the same time, you could contact the clinic or your specialist’s secretary to see if this can be arranged.

 

Tests you may have

For cancer of the larynx, your specialist will examine you at each appointment. You may have an examination with a flexible nasoendoscopy – you are very likely to have had this examination when you were first diagnosed. It means putting a flexible tube up your nose and down your throat to look at the larynx, or the area where it was before surgery. This test will generally be all that you need.

If you or your doctor have any concerns about your health, your specialist can arrange other tests. These may include

As well as examining you, your doctor will ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any new symptoms or are worried about anything. If you do have any new symptoms, your doctor may suggest a scan or blood test to make sure all is well. Generally, if everything is going well, you will not have follow up scans because they are unlikely to give any new information to you or your doctor. You may have a yearly chest X-ray to check that there isn't any sign of cancer in your lungs.

 

How often you have appointments

At first, your check ups will be every 6 weeks or so. As time goes on, if you stay well, they will gradually become less and less frequent. The exact timing of follow up appointments will be up to your consultant. Most doctors ask you to go for check ups

  • Every 4 to 8 weeks for the first year
  • Every 2 to 3 months for the second year
  • Every 3 to 4 months for the third year
  • Every 6 months for the fourth year
  • Yearly if you and your doctor think this is needed.
 

What to do if you are worried

If you are worried or notice any new symptoms between appointments, let your doctor know as soon as possible. You don’t have to wait until your next appointment.

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, a hospital appointment can bring back all the worry about your cancer. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. If you are able to share your worries, they may not seem quite so bad.

It is now quite common for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. If you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family, look for counselling organisations. To find out more look at our section on counselling.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum. 

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Updated: 21 July 2015