A Guide to Active Cancer Surveillance

After a patient’s cancer is cured, they still need to continue seeing their doctor. Follow-up care is extremely important to make sure the patient is recovering well. Doctors also need to check for signs that the cancer might have come back. To learn more about active cancer surveillance, talk to your doctor at Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA).

Understanding Active Cancer Surveillance

When cancer comes back after you’ve been declared cancer-free, it’s called recurrence. Recurrence can happen with any type of cancer, in any part of the body and at any time. It might come back after a few weeks or a few months, or even a few years down the road. The risk is higher during the first five years after treatment.

Unfortunately, cancer recurrence cannot always be prevented. That’s why you and your doctors do something called active cancer surveillance. That way, if the cancer does return, you’ll be able to catch it early and start another round of treatment as soon as possible.

Knowing What Signs to Look For

Your doctor will ask you to come in regularly for scans and tests. The tests will be more frequent at first and then phase out overtime. For example, a breast cancer survivor typically has a breast exam every couple of months for the first five years. After that, she might have an exam only once a year.

There are also things you can do at home. Your body will most likely look and feel different after cancer treatment. But, it’s important to know what signs are normal side effects, and what signs are not normal. Your doctor can help you understand what to look for. If you do notice anything unusual, tell them right away.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common signs of recurrence in general include:

  • Return of cancer symptoms you had before
  • New or unusual pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained bruising and bleeding
  • Chills or fevers
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Appearance of unusual lumps or swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lingering cough
  • Rash, itching or wheezing

RCCA Will Stay By Your Side

Beating cancer is a time to celebrate, but it’s also an important time for active cancer surveillance. If you need help coping with stress or have concerns about symptoms, reach out to your nearest RCCA office for resources today.