What happens after treatment for penile cancer?
For many men with penile cancer, treatment can 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 the cancer coming back. (When cancer comes back after treatment, it is called a 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 talks more about this.
For other men, the cancer may never go away completely. These men may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to try to help keep the cancer under control and help relieve symptoms from it. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty. Read When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away for more about this.
If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It’s very important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about any problems are having and may do exams and lab tests or imaging tests (such as CT scans) to look for signs of cancer or treatment side effects. Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to months, but others can last the rest of your life. 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.
After your treatment is finished, you will probably need to still see your cancer doctor for many years. Doctor visits and exams will be more frequent at first (typically every few months), but the time between visits can often get longer over time. Ask what kind of follow-up schedule you can expect.
It’s also very important to keep your 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.
Should your cancer come back, further treatment will depend on where the cancer is, what treatments you’ve had before, and your health. For more on dealing with a recurrence, see When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence..
Last Medical Review: 03/30/2015
Last Revised: 04/20/2015