- What happens after treatment for adult brain and spinal cord tumors?
- Recovering from the effects of the brain or spinal cord tumor and its treatment
- Keeping copies of your medical records and health insurance
- Lifestyle changes after having an adult brain or spinal cord tumor
- How does having an adult brain or spinal cord tumor affect your emotional health?
- What happens if treatment for an adult brain or spinal cord tumor is no longer working?
What happens after treatment for adult brain and spinal cord tumors?
For some people with brain or spinal cord tumors, treatment may remove or destroy the tumor. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about the tumor growing or coming back. (When a tumor comes back after treatment, it is called recurrence.) This is a very common concern in people who have had a brain or spinal cord tumor.
It may take a while before your fears lessen. But it may help to know that many cancer survivors have learned to live with this uncertainty and are leading full lives. Our document, Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence, gives more detailed information on this.
For other people, the tumor may never go away completely. Some people may continue to be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other treatments to try to help keep the tumor in check. Learning to live with a tumor that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty.
If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It is very important to keep all follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, examine you, and may order lab tests or imaging tests such as MRI scans to watch for a recurrence of the tumor.
In some cases, even with slow-growing tumors, some of the tumor may still be left behind after treatment. Even with tumors that are treated successfully, it is important to remember that some might come back, sometimes many years later.
Whether the tumor was completely removed or not, your health care team will want to follow up closely with you, especially in the first few months and years after treatment to make sure there is no progression or recurrence. Depending on the type and location of the tumor and the extent of the treatment, the team will decide which tests should be done and how often.
During this time, it is important to report any new symptoms to your doctor right away, so the cause can be determined and treated, if needed. Your doctor can give you an idea of what to look for. If you need further treatment at some point, the doctor will go over your options with you.
Should your tumor come back, the American Cancer Society document, When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can give you information on how to manage and cope with this phase of your treatment. You can get this document by calling 1-800-227-2345 or you can read it on cancer.org.
Last Medical Review: 10/09/2012
Last Revised: 02/06/2013