Continuing Care

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Continuing Care

Tips for being proactive about your health after cancer treatment ends

You might think you’ll never forget anything about your cancer treatment. Or you might never want to think about your cancer treatment after it ends. But your health depends on your dedication to continued care.

Increasing numbers of survivors are living many years after their initial diagnosis, so continued support, accurate information and accessible health care all are crucial for long-term survivors.

Partner with your health-care provider to develop your own personal survivorship care plan for life after cancer. Make sure to get these items from your treatment team:

1.) A treatment summary that includes types and dates of treatments you received, including:

  • Date you were diagnosed
  • The type and stage of your cancer
  • Surgical procedures
  • Names and cumulative doses of chemotherapy drugs
  • Radiation doses and areas of body that received radiation

2.) Photocopies of key medical records, such as your pathology reports and surgical procedures

3.) A listing of side effects and complications experienced, transfusions received and any hospitalizations

4.) Other treatments used such as physical therapy, acupuncture, herbal supplements, vitamins or complementary treatments

Symptoms may occur that need further attention, so ask about:

  • Possible long-term effects (swelling or numbness in the limbs, pain or depression), how to watch for them and how they will be treated
  • Symptoms to watch for that might signal a return of your cancer
  • Health-care contacts (names and phone numbers) to call if you become anxious or have questions — not only the doctor, but also an oncology nurse or social worker

Maintain this record and present it to any new treating physicians. Other important steps to think about:

  • Stay informed about new research and developments in the treatment or late effects of your type of cancer.
  • Attend community cancer programs or participate in teleconferences and webcasts that provide credible and current information.
  • Take advantage of cancer support services such as pain management clinics, psychological counseling and therapy.

You and your health professional can decide on a follow-up plan. Steps to take include:

  • Get a description of your state of health at the end of treatment.
  • Discuss a future schedule of visits.
  • Determine who will deliver follow-up care and where.
  • Understand the future tests that will be done, who will do them and why they are needed (such as those watching for a recurrence).
  • See if any of your regular habits could interfere with your recovery and determine the lifestyle steps you will take to protect your health.
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