After cancer treatment – follow-up care
After treatment, you will be followed up. Cancer patients are followed up at regular intervals. Follow-up varies depending on the type of cancer and how far the cancer has spread. You may receive follow-up care for some time after treatment in a specialist hospital and then transfer to primary care.
Follow-up is needed to detect any adverse effects of treatment and any possible recurrence of the cancer. Follow-up also ensures that you have recovered well from treatment.
Cancer follow-up includes a clinical examination, laboratory tests and imaging tests. These tests will vary depending on the type of cancer, how far it has spread and the recommendations for cancer treatment.
Additional tests will be done if you have any symptoms. It is therefore important that you report any symptoms at your follow-up appointment. Attention will also be paid to how you are recovering psychologically from the disease.
After treatment, many people feel anxious and insecure about going for follow-up appointments. The nursing staff will try to support you and tell you where to go if you need help.
The Cancer Society of Finland’s advice also provides assistance.
How frequent is follow-up care?
The frequency of cancer follow-up care varies depending on the disease. Frequent follow-up visits every 1-3 months are only recommended for some aggressive cancers.
In most cases, the risk of the cancer recurring decreases as time passes since diagnosis. On the other hand, some cancers, such as breast cancer, can recur after many years. There is no unequivocal answer as to how long follow-up should be continued. A person with cancer is often followed up regularly for about five years. After that, they move on to follow-up as needed. Sometimes cancer becomes chronic. In this case, cancer treatment and follow-up is planned individually.
Cancer treatments can also cause late effects, such as an increased risk of heart disease. It is therefore important that people with cancer have easy access to health services and participate in the screening and health checks offered.
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