Follow up after nasal and sinus cancers | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Follow up after nasal and sinus cancers

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page has information on follow up appointments with your doctor after having nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. You can find the following

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Follow up after nasal and sinus cancers

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. This is very important with head and neck cancers, to make sure that the cancer has not come back or that a new cancer has not developed.

Your doctor will probably examine you at each appointment. They will ask how you are feeling, and 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. You may have regular blood tests and a yearly chest X-ray. You may also see a speech therapist or have regular eye check ups.

How often will I have check ups?

At first, your check ups will be every 6 weeks or so. Assuming you stay well, they will gradually become less frequent. For squamous cell cancers you will see your specialist yearly for up to 10 years.

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

Worrying about check ups

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. They can bring all the worry about your cancer back to you. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. For more about counselling, look in the coping with cancer section.
 

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

 

 

What happens at a follow up appointment

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. This is very important with head and neck cancers, to make sure that the cancer has not come back or that a new cancer has not developed. People who have had a head and neck cancer are sometimes more at risk of developing a new (second) cancer. Depending on the type of cancer you had, your check ups may include

If you had external radiotherapy to your neck, your doctor will want to do regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. This is because about 30 to 40 out of every 100 people (30 to 40%) treated with external radiotherapy to the neck will develop low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism). This can cause chronic tiredness.

Your doctor may also use blood tests to check to see if your treatment has affected your pituitary gland. Your pituitary gland is in your brain and controls many functions of the body by producing chemical messengers (hormones).

You will not have all of these tests at every visit to your specialist. But your doctor will probably examine you at each appointment. 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 to make sure all is well. Generally, if everything is going well, you will not have follow up scans because they are unlikely to provide any new information to you or your doctor. But you may have a yearly chest X-ray to check that there isn't any spread to your lungs.

 

Seeing a speech therapist

You may need to go back to hospital to see the speech therapist if you have had any changes to your speech. You can arrange this through your specialist or nurse when you attend the outpatients' clinic. If you have a check up coming up, and would like to see a speech therapist at the same time, you could telephone the clinic or your specialist’s secretary to arrange this.

 

Having your eyes checked

If you have had treatment that has affected your eyes or eyesight, you are likely to need regular eye check ups. Your cancer specialist (oncologist) or eye specialist (ophthalmologist) will recommend how often you should have these check ups. There is more information about changes to your sight and eye check ups in the living with nasal and paranasal sinus cancer section.

 

How often you have check ups

At first, your check ups will be every 6 weeks or so. As time goes on, and assuming you stay well, they will gradually become less frequent. After 2 years your check ups might be every 3 to 6 months. And then after 3 years, your appointments could be every 6 months until you reach 5 years. For squamous cell cancers you may see your specialist yearly for up to 10 years in some hospitals.

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

 

Continuing to smoke after head and neck cancer

If you are a smoker and continue to smoke following your treatment for any head and neck cancer, your doctor is very likely to try and convince you to give up. Continuing to smoke can reduce the effectiveness of your treatment and increase the risk of another cancer developing. It can also make side effects of treatment more severe.

Giving up smoking can be very difficult especially if you have smoked for a long time. But giving up will have many benefits for you. There is information about how to stop smoking on this website. Your hospital specialist, specialist nurse or GP can also give you advice and support.

 

Worrying about check ups

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. This is to be expected after everything you may have been through since you were first diagnosed. If you are feeling well and are getting on with your life, a hospital appointment can bring all the worry about your cancer back to you. 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 hard to cope with.

If you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family, look on our page about counselling organisations.  It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling both during and after cancer treatment. There is information about counselling in our coping with cancer section.

Rate this page:
Submit rating
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 24 July 2014