Even after your cancer treatments end, the journey continues beyond recovery. Follow-up care after completing cancer treatment is important to restore your body and keep you healthy. Sarah Cannon nurse navigators will equip you with a survivorship care plan to help you navigate life after treatment.
Seven Key Care Tips for Survivorship
- Always go to your follow-up appointments.
- You will probably have follow-up exams every 3-6 months following treatment depending on your type of cancer.
- After time goes by without recurrence, your healthcare team will typically recommend checkups once or twice a year.
- Follow your appropriate immunization schedule. For cancer survivors, immunizations are especially important because cancer treatments can weaken the body’s immune system.
- Follow your recommended screening schedule.
- Your screening schedule will depend on the type and stage of your cancer and other aspects of your medical history.
- Make sure your primary physician has all your medical records and history.
- If you change your primary care physician, contact your oncologist’s office to send your medical records to your new physician.
- Keep a copy of your medical records at home to make copies for any medical team.
- Tell your doctor about any side effects.
- Some side effects are delayed and can present months after treatment ends. Let your healthcare team know of any changes in your health so they can help you manage them effectively.
- Take care of your body through a healthy diet and exercise.
- Restore and rejuvenate your body by replenishing it with a steady diet of fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, lean proteins and avoiding artificial sweeteners.
- If you are not currently exercising, gradually work toward 45-60 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. A regular exercise program keeps your body fit and can also help minimize stress and depression.
- Abstain from unhealthy lifestyle practices.
- Smoking, excessive alcohol use, lack of exercise, poor diet, and sun exposure without proper sunscreen all increase your risk of recurrence and secondary cancers.
- Smoking can be especially harmful to the body, increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke, and emphysema. Seek smoke cessation counseling to help you quit.
- Care for your emotional health.
- Caring for your emotional health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Feeling sad or anxious is normal after an event like cancer. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, talk to your healthcare team.
- It can also help to talk to someone in a similar situation. Connect with fellow survivors through support groups, peer counseling and individual counseling.
For specific follow-up care tips by disease site, visit Sarah Cannon’s cancer education pages:
- Anal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Hepatobiliary cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
For more information on survivorship, read the full Survivorship Handbook here.