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Follow up for salivary gland cancer

Men and women discussing salivary gland cancer

This page has information about follow up appointments with your doctor after salivary gland cancer treatment. You can go to sections about

 

A quick guide to what’s on this page

Follow up after salivary gland cancer

After your treatment has finished, you will have regular check ups. This is to make sure that the cancer has not come back. And to help with any side effects of the treatment.

At the check up your doctor will examine you. They will ask how you feel, and whether you have any new symptoms or are worried about anything. Check ups may also include blood tests, X-rays, scans and dental check ups. You won’t have all these tests at every visit though.

How often will I have check ups?

At first, you will need check ups every month to 6 weeks. If all is well they will become less frequent. After 5 years you might be able to stop check ups. But this is only a general guide.

Worrying about check ups

A hospital appointment can bring back all the worry about having cancer. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. You can find information 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 salivary gland cancer section.

 

 

What happens at a follow up appointment

After your treatment has finished, you will have regular check ups. This is very important with salivary gland cancer. Your doctors want to make sure that the cancer has not come back and that a new cancer has not developed. They will also want to help with any side effects that you have from the treatment. Depending on the type of cancer you had, your check ups may include

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound scans
  • Regular dental check ups

If you had external radiotherapy to your neck, your doctor may do regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. As people treated with external radiotherapy to the neck can sometimes develop low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism). This can cause chronic tiredness.

You won’t have all these tests at every visit. But your doctor will probably do a physical examination at each appointment. They will ask you

  • How you feel
  • If you have had any new symptoms, including swollen lymph glands
  • If you are worried about anything

How often you have scans will depend on your individual needs.

 

How often you have check ups

At first, you will need check ups every month to 6 weeks. If all is well you will then see the specialist every 2 months in the second year, and every 3 months in the third year. After 3 years your check ups are likely to be 6 monthly. If all is well 5 years on and there is no sign of your cancer, your specialist may discharge you.

This is only a general guide and your check ups might be more or less often. It depends on your type of cancer, the treatment you have had, and how your recovery is going.

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.

 

Worrying about check ups

Many people worry about going for their check ups. If you are well and getting on with your life appointments can bring back all the worry about your cancer. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you about how you are feeling. Sharing your concerns can make them seem less overwhelming.

It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. To find out more about counselling, look in the coping with cancer section.

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Updated: 1 July 2014