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Follow up appointment

After treatment, you have regular check ups to look for signs of the cancer coming back or spreading. This is called follow up.

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 may include:

  • blood tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • ultrasound scans

If you have had surgery to try to cure your gallbladder cancer, your surgeon may organise regular CT or MRI scans to try to pick up any signs of the cancer coming back as early as possible.

If you had a more advanced gallbladder cancer, your doctor may only arrange a scan if you have any new symptoms, or if there is any other cause for concern.

Generally, if everything is going well, you will not have follow up scans because they are unlikely to give any new information to you or your doctor.

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.

Help with diet

If you are having difficulty with your diet then you may want to come back to the hospital to see a dietician. 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 dietician at the same time, you could telephone the clinic or your specialist’s secretary to ask them to arrange it for you.

How often

At first, your check ups will be every 3 months for the first 2 years. After this, regular visits will be every 6 months, and when you have your 5 year follow up, appointments take place once a year.

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.

If you are having symptoms due to advanced cancer you will see your doctor or nurse regularly. They will check how you are coping generally, and see how well the treatments for your symptoms are working.

Patient led follow up

Some hospitals are trying out a new way of running their check ups. This system leaves it to you to take the lead in arranging to see your doctor or specialist nurse.

When you first finish treatment, your hospital arranges your appointments. But once your doctors are happy with your progress you can arrange them yourself. You can do this as often as you feel you need to.

You might want to make an appointment if you:

  • have noticed a change in your body that worries you
  • feel it is time you had a check up, even though you don't have any particular worries

In some situations, your specialist will ask you to book in for a particular test every so often.

This system means you can organise appointments to suit your own health needs. It also means that clinics aren’t full of people who might not need to see their doctor. This helps the hospital to keep waiting times short, so you can get an appointment quickly when you need one.

Last reviewed: 
24 Jan 2020
  • Biliary cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up. 
    J W Valle and others (2016)
    Annals of Oncology (supplement 5): v27-v38