Watch for possible signs of recurrence
If you have any of the signs or symptoms listed below, and they last for at least 2 weeks, tell your oncologist (cancer doctor) right away. If you are no longer seeing your oncologist, tell your family doctor right away and explain that you were told by your oncologist to watch for certain signs and report right away if they last more than 2 weeks.
Vaginal & abdominal changes
- Any vaginal staining / bleeding / discharge
- Bloated belly
- New abdominal or pelvic pain
Bowel & urinary changes
- Change in bowel habits [i.e. blood in stool (red or black), constipation, pain during bowel movement, thin pencil-like stools, can’t control bowel movement]
- Change in urinary habits (i.e. blood in urine, urinating often, can’t control urination, pain with urination)
Changes in you
- Loss of appetite (don’t feel like eating)
- Unplanned weight loss (weight loss not from a diet or attempt to lose weight)
- Fatigue (feeling very tired)
Track your symptoms
You can keep a journal to help you track how long a symptom is lasting. Track:
- When you first noticed the symptom
- What the symptom is
- Is it getting worse, better or staying the same
- Does anything make it worse or better
- Note if it wakes you from sleep
- Did you take medicine to help
- Did you seek medical help (doctor, emergency room, etc.)
Prepare for your follow-up appointments
To get the most out of your follow-up appointments consider the tips below:
Bring someone with you to your appointments. It is always helpful to have support, and he or she can serve as a second set of ears. He or she may also be able to think of questions to ask your doctor or nurse, or remember details about your symptoms you may have forgotten. Feel free to record your conversation so you can replay it later.
Prepare a list of questions in advance. This way, you won’t forget to ask about something that is important to you. Be sure to write down anything that you are concerned about whether it is pain, depression or anxiety, or changes in your eating or sleep patterns. Make your questions specific and brief to make the most of the time you have. Once you are at your appointment, ask the most important questions first.
Write down your doctor’s answers. Taking notes will help you recall what your doctor or nurse said. It also allows you to go over the information later when you have more time to focus or do research.
Ensure your family doctor is monitoring your health
Your family doctor is an important part of monitoring your overall health. Tell your family doctor about your cancer, treatment and how you are feeling.
If you do not have a family doctor, get one. Call 1 800 445 1822 or visit theHealth Care Connect website [opens in new window].
Does your oncologist at Princess Margaret have your family doctor’s contact information? Call to make sure they do (416 946 2220), and check that the information on your file is up to date and correct. Your oncologist will need to send your health records to your family doctor.
Make appointments with your family doctor to perform routine medical tests as part of your regular check-ups and to screen for other possible illnesses (even other cancers). Some tests your family doctor will do as part of regular check-ups are: blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and diabetes blood sugar tests.
Note: Ensure you also discuss all of your other health problems such as blood pressure and diabetes management with your family doctor.