Moving on after treatment for multiple myeloma
For most people, multiple myeloma never goes away completely. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy and other drugs, radiation treatment, or other treatments to try to help keep the cancer in check. Although there may be a time when they stop treatment for a time, most patients never really finish treatment. Follow up is needed for the doctor to know when to start treatment again. This can help prevent problems that can interfere with daily life.
Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be hard and very stressful. Our document, When Cancer Doesn't Go Away, talks more about this.
During and after treatment, ongoing follow-up is very important. Your doctors will ask about symptoms, do an exam, and order blood tests or tests like CT scans or x-rays. Follow-up is done to see if more treatment is needed, and to check for any side effects. This is the time for you to talk to your cancer care team about any changes or problems you notice and any questions or concerns you have.
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 your health insurance. Myeloma is rarely curable at this time. It may go away for a while, but the disease is likely to come back again. 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 helps 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 may find yourself seeing a new doctor who does not know anything about your medical history. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the 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 your lab results
- 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 from the hospital
- If you had radiation treatment, a summary of the type and dose of radiation and when and where it was given
- Finally, since some drugs can have long-term side effects, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
Last Medical Review: 02/01/2013
Last Revised: 02/13/2013