What happens after treatment for lung carcinoid tumors?
For many people with carcinoid tumors, 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 coming back. (When cancer comes back after treatment, it is called recurrence.) This is a very common concern in 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 accept this uncertainty and are living full lives. Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence gives more detailed information on this.
For other people, the cancer may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to try to help keep the cancer in check. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty. When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away has more information about this.
If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It is very important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about any problems you are having and may do exams, lab tests, or imaging tests (such as x-rays or CT scans) to look for signs of cancer or treatment side effects.
Your doctor will most likely want to see you fairly often (every couple of months or so) at first. The time between visits may be extended if there are no problems. Lung carcinoid tumors are often cured by the initial treatment, but sometimes they can come back (recur) many years later, which is why doctors often advise close follow-up for at least 10 years.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks or months, but others can last the rest of your life. During your doctor visits, talk to your cancer care team about any changes or problems you notice and let them know about any questions or concerns you have.
It’s important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
If the cancer does recur at some point, further treatment will depend on the type and location of the cancer, what treatments you’ve had before, and your health. For more information on how recurrent cancer is treated, see the section “Treatment of lung carcinoid, by type and extent of disease.” For more general information on dealing with a recurrence, you may also want to see When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your treatment, you may be seeing a new doctor who doesn’t know about your medical history. It’s important to be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details during and soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have the following information handy (and always keep copies for yourself):
- A copy of your pathology report(s) from any biopsies or surgeries
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report(s)
- If you stayed in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary the doctor wrote when you were sent home
- If you had radiation therapy, a copy of your treatment summary
- If you had chemotherapy or other medicines, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
- A copy of your x-rays or other imaging tests (which can often be stored digitally on a DVD, etc.)
- Contact information of the doctors who have treated your cancer
Last Medical Review: 02/05/2015
Last Revised: 04/10/2015