What happens after treatment for soft tissue sarcomas?
For some people with soft tissue sarcoma, 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. Our document Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence gives more detailed information on this.
For other people, the cancer may never go away completely. They might 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. Our document When Cancer Doesn't Go Away has more about this.
When treatment ends, 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 questions about any problems you have and might do exams and lab tests or x-rays and 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.
It is important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think about their cancer coming back, this could happen.
Should your cancer come back, our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can give you information to help you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer diagnosis and treatment, 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 in the future. Make sure you have the following information handy:
- A copy of your pathology report(s) from any biopsies or surgery
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report(s)
- If you were hospitalized, a copy of the discharge summary that doctors prepare when a patient is sent home
- If you had radiation, a copy of your radiation treatment summary
- If you had drug treatment (such as chemotherapy hormone therapy, or targeted therapy), a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
- Copy of recent imaging studies (such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans) on a DVD plus the radiology reports.
The doctor may want copies of this information for his records, but always keep copies for yourself.
Last Medical Review: 12/29/2014
Last Revised: 03/16/2015