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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 might include:

  • blood tests 
  • x-rays
  • a CT scan
  • an ultrasound scan

It is very important to have regular dental check ups. 

Thyroid levels 

Your doctor will regularly check your thyroid levels if you had external radiotherapy to your neck. About 30 to 40 out of 100 people (30 to 40%) have low thyroid hormone levels after radiotherapy. This can make you feel very tired a lot of the time. You can have thyroxine supplements to correct the low levels.

Speech therapy 

You will regularly see a speech therapist if you have:

  • changes to your speech
  • difficulty swallowing

How often you have follow up

  • In the first year your check ups will be about once a month
  • In the second year your check ups will be once every 2 months
  • In the third year your check ups will be every 3 months
  • In the fourth and fifth years your check ups will be every 6 months
  • After the fifth year you might be discharged if there is no signs of your cancer coming back

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

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.

Smoking

Your doctor will encourage you to give up smoking before you start treatment. It is still worth giving up smoking after mouth or oropharyngeal cancer as it reduces your risk of your cancer coming back. 

Information and help