- When Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence
- What is cancer recurrence?
- What are the types of recurrence?
- What is the risk of recurrence?
- Could I have done something to prevent the recurrence?
- Common questions about cancer recurrence
- When cancer recurs
- Treating recurrence
- What happens if treatment is no longer working?
- How do people cope emotionally when cancer recurs?
- “Is having a positive attitude important in fighting the cancer? My friends say it is, but I feel sad and discouraged.”
- What about the “why” questions?
- Get support
- Treating cancer as a chronic illness
- To learn more
Could I have done something to prevent the recurrence?
Although eating right, exercising, and seeing your doctor for follow-up visits are important, please understand that there probably was nothing you could do to keep your cancer from coming back. Many patients blame themselves for missing a doctor visit, not eating right, or putting off a CT scan for a family vacation. But even if you do everything just right, the cancer might still come back.
Sometimes people think taking certain vitamins, herbs, or other dietary supplements will give them an extra edge in preventing recurrence. But the available research does not support this belief. In fact, some research has shown that supplements containing high levels of single nutrients (more than the Dietary Reference Intakes and the tolerable upper intake limits) may have unexpected harmful effects on cancer survivors. To learn more about supplements, you may want to read our document called Dietary Supplements: How to Know What Is Safe.
It would be very satisfying to have something we could use to keep cancer from coming back after treatment. We want a real weapon to fight back with -– something that will give us insurance against the cancer coming back. Both doctors and patients wish that there were such a magic potion or formula. But at this time there is nothing you could have done to make sure the cancer would not come back. Even with our current understanding of the process of cancer development and growth, this disease is mostly a mystery and not within human control.
Last Medical Review: 04/29/2011
Last Revised: 04/29/2011