The successful end of cancer treatment is a welcome milestone for any patient, but it’s also the beginning of an important new chapter.
Here are some questions to ask your care team at the end of treatment to help you live well beyond cancer:
- Can I get a treatment summary and survivorship care plan? A treatment summary will usually include your cancer diagnosis and describe the medical care that you received. A survivorship care plan will describe follow-up screenings you might need, as well as preventive measures to help prevent future health problems. It may also offer tips for managing physical and mental health. Both of these documents can be helpful when you return to your primary care physician for regular checkups.
- Are there potential long-term side effects I should be aware of? Learn whether your cancer or treatments put you at an increased risk for certain health risks – or even for developing other types of cancer. For example, did you receive chemotherapy or radiation that may increase your risk of heart or lung problems? Or, did you take any medications that may affect bone density and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis? Ask about symptoms to watch for and what to do if you notice them.
- How often should I see my primary care physician for follow-up care? Learn which tests and screenings you may need, and how often you’ll need them. It’s also a good idea to ask about specific survivorship programs or services your cancer center offers.
- Where can I get help with issues related to emotional health, such as depression, anxiety, or fear of recurrence? Your care team should be able to refer you to the appropriate experts for follow-up care. You can also ask about any support groups that might be right for you.
- Who can help me with potential physical problems, such as pain, fatigue, weight changes, or lymphedema? Getting over the effects of cancer treatment can take time, but it’s important to address any physical issues you’re experiencing with your physician.
For more tips on living well after cancer, review our information sheets for cancer survivors, or see a survivorship expert in the Adult Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. You can also attend one of several free educational sessions for adult cancer survivors.