Life after treatment for bowel cancer

For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after treatment for bowel cancer has its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.

Some people say that they feel pressure to return to ‘normal life’, but they don’t want life to return to how it was before cancer. Take some time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and re-establish a new daily routine at your own pace.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.

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Follow-up appointments

After your treatment, you will need regular check-ups to confirm that the cancer hasn’t come back. You may have a physical examination, blood tests including checking of CEA levels , a scan or a colonoscopy.

Check-ups will become less frequent if you have no further problems. Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any health problems.


Dealing with feelings of sadness

If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.

Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people are able to get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to ask about counselling programs.

Beyondblue has information about coping with depression and anxiety. 


This information was last reviewed in February 2017
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