After treatment for salivary gland cancer, you have regular tests and appointments with your doctor or nurse. This is called follow up.
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.
How often you have check ups
At first, you have 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 every 6 months. After 5 years your specialist may discharge you if all is well and there is no sign of your cancer.
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.
You might go for check ups at the surgical outpatients after surgery. You go to the cancer clinic if you have had chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The surgeon and the oncologist might share your follow up. This means you see the surgeon sometimes and the oncologist at other times.
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 some of the following tests at some visits:
- a physical examination
- blood tests
- scans such as X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound scans and MRI scans
- dental check ups
You might need to have regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels if you had external radiotherapy to your neck. This is because radiotherapy to the neck can sometimes cause low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism). This can cause ongoing tiredness.
You won’t have all these tests at every visit. Your doctor will probably do a physical examination at each appointment.
Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring back any anxiety you had about your cancer.
It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment.
You can also find people to share experiences with by using our online forum, CancerChat.