After cancer treatment, you will need regular appointments with a doctor or primary care provider. These are called “follow-up appointments”. They may help catch any cancer-related health problems early. You will initially have regular appointments with your oncologist (cancer doctor). After a while, these appointments will be with your Family Doctor, Nurse practitioner or another member of your primary care team. Information has been sent to your family doctor, nurse practitioner or primary care team so that they know all the testing and treatments you have had.
The frequency and length of your follow-up appointments depends on your needs and details of your diagnosis (cancer stage, the treatment you had etc.).
- For example: some patients may be advised to come in every 6 months in the first 5 years, and then once a year after 5 years
- Depending on details of your diagnosis, your oncologist (cancer doctor) might follow you for at least 2 years; after this, your family doctor, nurse practitioner or another member of your primary care team will continue to follow you
What to expect at your follow-up appointment
In the waiting room:
- At Princess Margaret you will fill out a screening test (called DART) on a computer to check your overall health, well-being and symptoms. Help is provided if you would like it.
See also: What is DART? »
With your nurse & doctor:
- You will talk about your health history as it relates to your cancer diagnosis.
- You will have a physical exam around possible sites (parts of your body) where cancer recurrence is most common.
- Based on the stage of your cancer, details about the tumour, the treatment you had, other risk factors, or new symptoms, you may have tests (blood tests, imaging scans etc.). Your doctor and nurse will review your test results to look for signs of recurrence and/or a new cancer.
- You may talk with your doctor and nurse about how you have been feeling. How you are feeling includes physical feelings like pain, fatigue etc. and also emotional and practical concerns like:
- Has anything changed in your relationships with family and friends?
- Are you feeling anxiety, fear of recurrence?
- What are your plans for returning to work?
- Are you having trouble with your finances?
Your family doctor, nurse practitioner or another member of your primary care team need to know about all aspects of your overall health to help you. Your doctor and nurse can refer you to specialists and social workers to help as well. It is important to book regular appointments with your family doctor. Your family doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to monitor your health through checking for signs of recurrence and also addressing any other health concerns.