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Follow up for ovarian cancer

Women discussing ovarian cancer

This page tells you about follow up after ovarian cancer treatment. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Follow up for ovarian cancer

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. Each time you go to the hospital, your doctor or specialist nurse will examine you and ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms and if you are worried about anything. At some visits, you may have blood tests, X-rays, CT scans or ultrasound scans.

If all is well, your appointments will gradually become less and less frequent. For the first couple of years your check ups will usually be every 2 to 3 months. After this, you usually have 6 monthly appointments for up to 5 years.

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, a hospital appointment can bring back the worry about your cancer. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. 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.

It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. There is more about counselling in our coping with cancer section.

 

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

 

 

What happens at follow up appointments

After your treatment, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. These may include

You will not have all these tests at every visit to the hospital. But your doctor or cancer specialist nurse will probably examine you at each appointment. They will also ask how you are feeling and whether you have any side effects from treatment or any new symptoms, or are worried about anything.

 

CA125 blood tests

Doctors used to use CA125 blood tests to monitor the growth of ovarian cancer. CA125 is a protein that some ovarian cancers make and release into the bloodstream. The bloodstream level of CA125 can sometimes go up before there are any signs of the cancer on scans.

But some women found that having this test at each appointment made them very anxious. Large clinical trials have looked at how useful routine CA125 testing is as part of follow up for ovarian cancer. They found that giving treatment as soon as the cancer starts to grow back works no better than waiting until symptoms develop and then starting treatment. People having treatment earlier may also have a lower quality of life because of treatment side effects. So now, doctors will wait and give treatment if you develop symptoms, rather than doing regular CA125 tests.

 

How often you have check ups

How often you have check ups will depend on the treatment you have had and how well you are. But for the first couple of years, your check ups will usually be every 2 to 3 months. After this, you usually have 6 monthly appointments for up to 5 years. You may see your surgeon (gynaecological oncologist) for one appointment and your cancer specialist (oncologist) for the next. In some hospitals, you may see your gynaecology cancer specialist nurse at every appointment instead of seeing a doctor.

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

 

Worrying about your appointments

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. If you have a specialist gynaecological nurse at your hospital, you may find it helps to talk through your concerns with them. Or you may prefer 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. There is information about counselling in our coping with cancer section.

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Updated: 13 April 2016