Moving on after treatment for liver cancer
For some people with liver cancer, treatment may remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back. (When cancer comes back after treatment, it is called a recurrence.) This is a very common worry for people who have had cancer.
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 details about this.
For others, the liver cancer may never go away completely. You may get regular treatment with targeted therapy, chemo, or other treatments to try to help keep the cancer in check. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be hard and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty. Our document, When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away, talks more about this.
If you have finished treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, do physical exams, and order blood tests or imaging tests (like CT scans or MRIs). Follow-up is needed to watch for treatment side effects as well as to check for cancer that has come back or spread. If you were treated with a liver transplant, you will need special follow-up exams and tests to check for signs that your new liver is working well.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks or months, but others can be permanent. Please tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them. Use this time to ask your health care team questions and talk about any concerns you might have.
It is also important to have health insurance. While you hope your cancer won't come back, it could happen. If it does, you don't want to have to worry about paying for treatment. Should your cancer come back, our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can help you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer is found and treated, you could find yourself in the office of a new doctor. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the exact details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have this information handy and always keep copies for yourself:
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- Copies of imaging tests (CT or MRI scans, etc.), which can usually be stored on a CD, DVD, etc.
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report
- If you stayed in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that the doctor wrote when you were sent home
- If you had radiation treatment, a summary of the type and dose of radiation and when and where it was given
- If you had chemo or targeted therapies, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
Last Medical Review: 11/19/2014
Last Revised: 12/09/2014