When Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence

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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. 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 Recommended Dietary Allowances or Adequate Intakes) may have unexpected harmful effects on cancer survivors. To learn more about supplements, you may want to read our document called Dietary Supplements: 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 how cancer develops and grows, this disease is mostly a mystery and not within human control.


Last Medical Review: 05/13/2013
Last Revised: 06/19/2013