WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER CANCER TREATMENTS?
CANCER TREATMENT IS DONE, NOW WHAT?
CANCER TREATMENT PARADIGM
Usually, before cancer diagnosis is completely absorbed or understood, treatment decision must be made in a timely manner. Some cancer treatment is more urgent (base of tongue cancer, GBM brain cancer, etc., ) versus other cancer (such as low risk prostate cancer). Regardless of the cancer type, once treatment begins, it tends to be very involved – Surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatment options in varying order – and treatment is lengthy.
For example: If a patient has locally advance breast cancer, and chooses breast conservation therapy, then the treatment paradigm would include:
- breast surgery (lumpectomy) followed by
- chemotherapy for several months, then
- radiation therapy for approximately 6 weeks
That is a very long and regimented schedule!
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK AFTER TREATMENT IS DONE?
Questions to ask after different treatments will vary. Common questions typically includes;
- “what is going to happen next?”
- “do I need any scans?”
- “how will I know if the cancer comes back?”
- “when will I see you again?”
These are all reasonable questions. Some hospital systems may have “Cancer Care Navigators” to help answer some of these questions. There are cancer guidelines for follow-up plans established for different types of cancer. You may find some useful questions to ask your cancer team in the back of any of these Cancer Appointment books. The guide also gives a template of how often a follow-up may occur, but such decision should be made with your cancer team. You should also know that some treatment can be prolonged with immunotherapy for up to a year or longer. Some patients diagnosed with lung cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, and certain other cancer may be eligible. If you are diagnosed with high risk prostate cancer, then hormone therapy may be required for 1.5 to 3 years!
BE A PART OF YOUR CANCER TEAM – EVEN AFTER THE TREATMENT IS DONE!
Every patient’s cancer diagnosis is different. Comparing your cancer treatment and follow-up plan with another patient can be dangerous, no matter how closely related the cancer stages may seem to you. There are always finite small differences – think of your finger prints – no two humans are the same! Advocate for yourself. Ask your cancer team questions and be specific. Be a part of your cancer team. Be aware of what to expect every step of the way!
Until next time know that,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!