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Follow up for lung cancer

Men and women discussing lung cancer

This page tells you about follow up after treatment for lung cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Follow up for lung cancer

After your treatment has finished, you will have regular check ups. Your doctor or specialist nurse will usually examine you and listen to your chest. They will ask how you are feeling, and whether you have had any new symptoms. You may also have chest X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound scans or blood tests at some visits.

How often you have appointments depends on the treatment you've had and how well it has worked. You might go to the hospital or see your GP. At first your check ups will be every few months. If all goes well, they will gradually become less frequent. If you are worried, or notice any new symptoms between appointments, you must let your doctor or specialist nurse know straight away. You don't have to wait for your next appointment.

If you have symptoms due to advanced cancer, you might see a specialist nurse or palliative care team regularly. They may visit you at home. They will check to make sure your symptoms are as well controlled as possible. And they can advise you about any practical help and support that you and your family need.

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. 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 the coping with cancer section.

 

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

 

 

What happens at your appointment

After your treatment has finished, you will have regular check ups. At each appointment, your doctor or nurse will examine you and listen to your chest. They will ask how you are feeling and whether you have had any new symptoms. They will also ask if anything is worrying you.

You may also have 1 or more of the following tests at some appointments.

 

How often you have check ups

How often you have appointments depends on the treatment you've had and how well it has worked. You might go to the hospital or see your GP or specialist nurse.

After surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy aiming to get rid of the cancer, you are likely to have an appointment between 2 and 6 weeks after the treatment has finished. After that you may have appointments at regular intervals, for example

  • Every 3 months for the 1st year
  • Every 4 months for the 2nd year
  • Every 6 months for the 3rd and 4th year
  • Then yearly

If you have had treatment aiming to control symptoms, your doctor or specialist nurse will see you after the treatment has ended. They may then ask you to get in touch with them when you need to. If you are worried, or notice any new symptoms between appointments, you must let your doctor or specialist nurse know straight away. You don't have to wait for your next appointment. You can usually phone your specialist nurse and arrange to go in to the clinic to see them.

 

Worrying about your appointments

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, an 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 bad.

Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment. You can look at our counselling section to see if counselling might help you.

 

Getting help and support

If you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses. The number to call is freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

You can also look at the lung cancer organisations page for people who can help. 

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

If you are having symptoms because your cancer has grown you might see a specialist nurse or palliative care team regularly. They may visit you at home. They will check to make sure your symptoms are as well controlled as possible. They can also advise you about any practical help and support that you and your family may need.

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Updated: 31 March 2014