Is the treatment working?
You might wonder whether experiencing side effects is a sign that the chemotherapy is working. However, whether or not you have side effects does not indicate how successful the chemotherapy will be.
Throughout treatment, you will be closely monitored by your specialist. You will have tests to check how well the chemotherapy drugs are working, and whether the cancer has shrunk or disappeared after chemotherapy. This is called the treatment response and it helps your doctor decide whether to continue or change the chemotherapy plan.
If tests show that the cancer has shrunk and is unable to be detected, this may be called remission or complete response, which means there is no evidence of disease (NED). Depending on the guidelines for the type of cancer you have, this may mean chemotherapy can stop or it may continue for a period of time.
Once you’ve completed the course of chemotherapy, your doctor will monitor you for several months or years. This is because cancer can sometimes come back in the same place or grow in another part of the body.
You may be able to have some appointments with your health professionals over the phone or a video link from home. This is known as telehealth and it can reduce the number of times you need to attend hospital.
Although telehealth can’t replace all face-to-face appointments, you can use it to talk about a range of issues including test results, prescriptions and side effects. For more information, talk to your treatment team or call 13 11 20.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Prof Timothy Price, Medical Oncologist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, SA; Graham Borgas, Consumer: Dr Joanna Dewar, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Professor, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and The University of Western Australia, WA; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Angela Kritikos, Senior Oncology Dietitian, Dietetic Department, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Kate Mahon, Director of Medical Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Georgie Pearson, Consumer; Chris Rivett, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Marissa Ryan, Acting Consultant Pharmacist (Cancer Services), Pharmacy Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD.
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