Follow-up care

After your treatment has finished, you may need regular check-ups. These will allow your doctor to monitor your health and well-being. Follow-up care depends on the type of cancer and treatment you had, plus any side effects you are experiencing. It is usually different for each person.

Your treatment  summary

It’s a good idea to ask your oncologist for a written summary of your cancer type, breast cancer), tumour marker information treatment and follow-up care.

Share this summary with your GP or any new health care providers you see. It will provide medical guidance for your care when you’ve finished active treatment.

This plan should include the following information:

  • type of cancer
  • date of diagnosis
  • diagnostic tests performed and results
  • pathology results: stage, grade, hormonal status (usually for people with breast cancer), tumour marker information
  • treatment details (e.g. type of surgeries, sites and amounts of radiation therapy, names and doses of chemotherapy and all other drugs, results of scans and x-rays)
  • list of symptoms to watch for and possible long-term side effects of treatment
  • contact information for health professionals involved in your treatment and follow-up care.

Common questions

What do check-ups involve?

During check-ups your doctor will:

  • see how you’re recovering
  • ask how you’re feeling and coping with life after cancer
  • monitor and treat any ongoing side effects
  • look for any signs that the cancer may be coming back
  • investigate any new symptoms
  • ask if you have any concerns
  • discuss your general health and suggest things you can do to keep yourself healthy, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Blood tests and scans may be taken, depending on the cancer type and treatment. For example, women treated for breast cancer need mammograms and men treated for prostate cancer need PSA tests.

Being honest with your doctors will help them manage any symptoms that are bothering you. For instance, you should let them know if you feel very low in mood or energy.

How often do I need check-ups?

The frequency of check-ups varies depending on the type of cancer you have. You may want to ask your doctor about the national guidelines for follow-up care available for some cancers (e.g. breast and bowel cancer).

Some people have check-ups every 3-6 months for the first few years after treatment, then less frequently thereafter. Talk to your doctors about what to expect.

If you are worried or notice any new symptoms between appointments, contact your doctor. Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment.

Who do I see for follow-up care?

You may have follow-up appointments with the same doctor who provided your cancer treatment. In addition, you may see your general practitioner (GP), who can help coordinate your care and monitor your overall health. This may include monitoring your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight.

Some people only need to see their GP for follow-up care. Depending on where you live, this may be the most practical approach. The GP will liaise with your specialists so that if problems occur, you can be referred again.

You may need help from other health professionals such as a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, dietitian or specialist nurse.

How can I prepare for check-ups?

Before you see the doctor, it may help to write down any questions you have. If your doctor uses medical terms you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask for a simpler explanation.

If you have several questions or concerns, ask for a longer appointment. Taking notes during the session can also help.

Many people like to have a family member or friend go with them, to take part in the discussion, take notes or simply listen.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have:

  • trouble doing everyday activities
  • new symptoms
  • new aches or pains that seem unrelated to an injury, or familiar ones that have become worse
  • changes in weight
  • changes in appetite
  • feelings of anxiety or depression
  • other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis
  • medicines you are taking and other complementary treatments you are using.

You can also talk to your health care team about other issues. For example, you may want to talk about changes to your sexuality, how cancer has affected your relationships, or practical issues such as returning to work.

You should tell other health professionals you see about your cancer diagnosis and its treatment, as this may affect their decisions about the treatment they provide you.

Questions to ask your doctor

You may want to ask your doctor a few questions from this list:

  • Why do I need check-ups?
  • What happens during check-ups?
  • How often do I need check-ups?
  • What symptoms should I look out for?
  • What tests will I have if there are signs the cancer may have come back?
  • How long will it be before I feel better?
  • What should I do if I have new symptoms between appointments?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve my health?
  • Where can I get further information about my follow-up care?

Managing anxiety before check-ups

Many cancer survivors say they feel anxious before routine check-ups. Sleeping problems, poor appetite, mood swings and feeling more aches and pains are common in the lead-up to the appointment.

You may feel anxious before check-ups because:

  • you fear that you’ll be told the cancer has come back
  • going back to hospital brings back bad memories
  • it makes you feel vulnerable and fearful just when you were feeling more in control
  • other people (friends or family) make comments that upset you.

Finding ways to cope with your worries before check-ups may help. Once you have had a few and all is okay, you may feel less concerned.


  • Take a close friend or relative with you to your check-ups. Sharing your fears may help you cope better, and people close to you may want to help.
  • Make the day something to look forward to. Plan to do something special after your appointment – go out for a meal or buy yourself a treat.
  • Try to see your check-ups as a preventive measure. Regular check-ups may increase the chance of any problems being picked up early when they may be easier to treat.
  • If you find it overwhelming to go to the treatment centre, ask if it is possible to visit the doctor elsewhere.
  • Do deep breathing or relaxation exercises to manage your anxiety when waiting for your appointment.
  • Book the first appointment of the day or plan another activity beforehand so you are busy and don’t have time to dwell on the appointment.

Stay informed about any new treatments for the type of cancer you had. This may help you cope better.

View our editoral policy

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.