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.
Where you go for your follow up
You usually go to the cancer clinic for follow up. However due to the coronavirus pandemic many hospital appointments may have changed. You might have a video or telephone appointment instead of a face-to-face appointment.
Your healthcare team will let you know about your follow up appointment and what to expect.
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:
- a physical examination
- blood tests
- CT scans
How often you have check ups
Your first check up is generally about 4 to 6 weeks after treatment finishes. Then your check ups might be every few months. They will gradually become less frequent. How often you have appointments can vary between different hospitals, and may be tailored to your own situation.
Some women may have check ups every 3 or 4 months for the first couple of years, and then every 6 months for up to 5 years. In some hospitals, women with early cancers may now only have a few follow up appointments. In this case, you are given plenty of information about what to look out for and who to contact if you have any concerns.
You might go for check ups at the surgical outpatients after surgery. You will go to the cancer clinic if you have had radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
The surgeon and oncologist might share your follow up. This means you will see the surgeon sometimes and the oncologist at other times.
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.