For some people with mesothelioma, 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 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 live with this uncertainty and are living full lives. Our document, Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence gives more detailed information on this.
For many people, the mesothelioma may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatments with chemo, radiation, or other treatments to help keep the cancer in check. Learning to live with cancer that doesn’t go away can be hard and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty.
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 may order blood tests or imaging tests (like CT scans or MRIs). Follow-up is needed to watch for treatment side effects and to check for cancer that has come back or spread. 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 longer if there are no problems.
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 discuss any concerns you might have.
It is also important to keep 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. If the cancer does recur at some point, further treatment will depend on where the cancer is, what treatments you’ve had before, and your health. Our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can help you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Keep your health insurance and copies of your medical records
At some point after your cancer is found and treated, you may find yourself in the office of a new doctor who does not know about your cancer. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the exact details of your diagnosis and treatment. Make sure you have this information handy and always keep copies for yourself:
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- 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 chemotherapy, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
Last Revised: 10/02/2012