Follow-up care is an essential part of the treatment of cancer patients. After cancer treatment, follow-up care is necessary to monitor the patient’s condition, detect any recurrence or complications, and support the patient in their recovery process.
The following are the key reasons why follow-up care is essential post-cancer treatment:
- Detecting Cancer Recurrence: Follow-up care helps detect any cancer recurrence at an early stage. This is important because the earlier cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment.
- Managing Side Effects: Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can cause long-term side effects that require ongoing management. Follow-up care allows healthcare providers to monitor the patient’s condition and provide appropriate care and support to manage any side effects.
- Monitoring Overall Health: Cancer treatment can take a toll on a patient’s physical and mental health. Follow-up care includes monitoring the patient’s overall health, addressing any health issues that arise, and providing support to help the patient maintain their physical and mental well-being.
- Providing Support: Follow-up care offers the opportunity to support cancer survivors. Patients often experience emotional distress and anxiety after cancer treatment, and follow-up care can provide emotional support, counseling, and guidance on managing life after cancer.
- Preventive Care: Follow-up care includes regular screenings and tests to detect any new cancers or other health problems that may arise. This helps to prevent future health problems and allows for early detection and treatment if necessary.
The schedule for each patient’s follow-up care is unique. Your frequency of follow-up visits is determined by the following:
- The kind of cancer you had;
- The treatment you got;
- Your overall health, including any problems you might have had because of the treatment.
Get a Follow-Up Care Plan
After completing your cancer treatment, your oncologist or another treatment team member should provide you with a follow-up care plan.
As the patient returns to their daily life following treatment and over time, having a follow-up care plan can help them feel more in control. A patient’s physical and emotional well-being may improve with a medical support network.
After cancer treatment, how are long-term side effects managed?
- During cancer treatment, side effects are probably to be expected. However, if some continue to do so after treatment, those are long-term side effects.
- Late effects are side effects that may not occur until months or even years after treatment ends. Changes in one’s physical and emotional well-being can occur over time due to cancer and its treatment.
- The type of cancer, the course of treatment, and overall health will determine the level of risk.
A cancer recurrence is different from second cancer. A recurrence indicates that the initial cancer has returned in the same or another part of the body.
Talk to your doctor about treatment options and screening protocols if you have been diagnosed with certain types of cancer and have other risk factors.
Late Effects of Treatment for Cancer: These issues are particular to specific treatments and dosages. The late side effects may be caused by chemotherapy, steroid medication, hormonal therapy, or radiation therapy.
|Late effects of cancer treatment||Causes||Ways to manage|
|Bone Loss||Chemotherapy, steroid meds, hormonal treatment, or radiation treatment might cause diminishing of the bones. Only the treated area of the body will experience bone loss from radiation therapy.||You can reduce your risk of bone loss by:Avoiding tobacco products and smoking; Consuming calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods; Engaging in weight-bearing activities like walking or jogging; and Limiting alcohol consumption|
|Brain Changes||Late impacts that might happen rely upon the piece of the cerebrum that was dealt with and may include : Memory loss Difficulty concentrating Inability to process information quickly Shifts in one’s personality Difficulties with one’s movement||If you experience delayed effects, your doctor or nurse should discuss ways to treat these effects with you; they may refer you to a physical, occupational, or speech therapist who can help you with these problems; may prescribe medication or suggest surgery to relieve symptoms.|
|Endocrine System Changes||The thyroid, ovaries, and testes are endocrine system components that may be damaged by cancer treatment.||The doctor will talk to you about how to deal with your sexual problems or infertility.|
|Thyroid disorders||The thyroid, ovaries, and testes are endocrine system components that may be damaged by cancer treatment||Your doctor might suggest thyroid hormone replacement therapy and closely watch how you react to the medicine if you develop an underactive thyroid Treatment options for overactive thyroid include:Medications that stop the thyroid from making hormones; Radiation to destroy the thyroid; Surgery to remove the thyroid; Beta-blockers to treat symptoms like a fast heartbeat, anxiety, or trembling|
|Eye Problems||Steroid medications, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy may make cataracts more likely. Dry eye syndrome can be caused by some chemotherapy drugs. Your eyes are unable to produce enough tears, which is the cause of this issue.||You should see an ophthalmologist on a regular basis if you are at risk for cataracts. Surgery is an option for treating severe cataracts. Assuming you have a dry eye condition, your primary care physician might prescribe standard treatment with eye drops or salves.|
|Hearing issues||Tinnitus, often known as ringing in the ears, or hearing loss that develops months or years after treatment can be induced by certain chemotherapy medications and large doses of brain radiation.||Look for indications of hearing loss. If you experience ringing in the ears or notice other changes in your hearing, tell your doctor right away.See an audiologist who specializes in identifying, evaluating, and treating balance, hearing, and other ear-related issues.|
|Heart Problems||Cancer treatment can lead to heart problems like : A weakening of the heart muscle or Congestive heart failure.Coronary artery disease, in which the heart’s tiny blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood narrow.||Follow a healthy diet. If you’re overweight or obese, lose weight.Get moving.Give up smoking and avoid taking prescription drugs.Get adequate rest.Take the medications your doctor gives you.|
|Joint Changes||Steroids, some chemotherapy drugs, and radiation therapy can make the joints scarred. Loss of motion in joints like your jaw, shoulders, hips, or knees can result from these issues.||Your physician will recommend that you see a physical therapist, who will look at your joint issues and give you exercises to do. Physical therapy exercises can improve movement, strength, and pain relief.|
|Lung Problems||Lung damage may be more likely in cancer survivors who received both chest radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Lung damage is characterized by fatigue, wheezing, fever, dry cough, congestion, and shortness of breath.||Oxygen therapy may be prescribed by your doctor if you have significant breathing difficulties.If you’re overweight or obese, lose weight.Get moving.Stop smoking, don’t vape, and try not to consume drugs not recommended by a specialist. Your doctor could prescribe medication to help you relax, feel better, or manage pain if breathing becomes difficult.|
|Lymphedema||LymphedemaYou may develop lymphedema if a portion of your lymphatic system is harmed during radiation therapy or surgery to remove lymph nodes.||Keep your skin safe. Use cream to stay away from dry skin. Apply sunblock.Keep your feet dry and clean. To avoid infection and ingrown nails, cut your nails short and clean. Jewelry and shoes should not be too tight. Get moving: Attempt to keep body fluids moving, particularly in lymphedematous regions. Lymphatic drainage by hand is a form of therapeutic massage known as manual lymph drainage|
|Mouth Changes||Few chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy to the head or neck can have long-term side effects in your mouth. Dry mouth, cavities, or jaw bone loss are all possible issues.||Go to the dentist. Exercise your jaw.Activate salivation. You might be told by your doctor or nurse to drink 8 to 10 cups of liquid every day.Take care of your gums and teeth.|
|Post-traumatic Stress||Among the signs of post-traumatic stress are:• Frightening thoughts • difficulty sleeping • being distracted • feeling overstimulated • feeling alone • losing interest in day-to-day activities.||Be sure to tell your doctor if any of these symptoms make you feel uneasy. You may be referred to a therapist by your doctor. These professionals are able to evaluate your symptoms and offer treatment options like relaxation training, therapy, support groups, and specific medications.|
|Second Primary Cancers||Even after you have finished treatment for cancer, you may still develop a new cancer. A second primary cancer occurs when a person with a previous history of cancer develops a new primary cancer.||For the rest of your life, have regular checkups to check for cancer, both the cancer that you have been treated for and any new cancer that might develop. Your doctor can tell you what tests you should have and how often to have them to check for cancer.|
Awareness and follow-up are important screening measures for reducing your cancer risks.
Make sure your doctor knows about the treatment you received for cancer, your general health, and the health history of your family, so that he can help in reducing/ managing the risk factors.
Some risk factors, such as the risk posed by inherited genes or previous cancer treatment, cannot be controlled. However, there are few things you can do to reduce your overall risk of cancer, such as:
Apollo Hospitals offers forms to help patients track their cancer treatment and their doctor’s recommendations for follow-up care.
Information about the treatments you have received and recommendations for follow-up care are essential for your doctor. These forms help them monitor your follow-up care and ensure your health is on track. Keeping this information is also helpful if you have been referred to other specialists .
Follow-up care is crucial for cancer survivors to monitor their health, detect any recurrence, manage side effects, and provide support for emotional and mental well-being. It is recommended that cancer survivors maintain regular follow-up care appointments with their healthcare providers to ensure optimal care and management of their health.
Cancer care does not end when treatment ends.