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Follow up appointments for bone cancer

You will have follow up appointments and tests after treatment for bone cancer.

This page is about cancer that starts in your bone (primary bone cancer).

If your cancer has spread into bone from another part of the body, it is called secondary or metastatic bone cancer.

Why you have follow up appointments

You usually have follow up appointments every few months to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries. The appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you have about your progress.

What happens

Your doctor or nurse examines you at each appointment. They ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms or side effects, and if you are worried about anything.

You might also have tests at some visits.

Tests might include:

Chest x-rays

You will have regular chest x-rays if you have had osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma or Ewing sarcoma. This is because these types of bone cancer can spread to the lungs.

Blood tests

You might have blood tests for a protein called alkaline phosphatase (ALP) if you have had osteosarcoma. ALP is a chemical made by bone cells that can be picked up in the blood. Some people with osteosarcoma have higher levels of ALP in their blood. The test can be used to check for the cancer coming back if you had a raised ALP when you were first diagnosed.

CT or MRI scans

You're not likely to have CT scans or MRI scans as part of your routine follow up. You might have them if you have new symptoms. Or if your chest x-ray or blood test shows there is a possibility your cancer may have come back.

How often you have check ups

For the first couple of years you are likely to have check ups every 3 months.

If all is well you might go to 6 monthly appointments until you reach 5 years.

After that you are only likely to need yearly check ups.

Between appointments

Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns between appointments. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms. You don’t have to wait until your next visit.

You can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 to talk through follow up appointments. Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.