The timing of your first follow-up appointment will depend on the type of surgery and your recovery. You may see the surgeon or your GP, depending on where you live and what the medical team recommends.
Your doctor will check your wound and remove any stitches, staples, adhesives or drains that are still in place. If your pathology results are available, your doctor will discuss these with you and tell you whether you will need any further treatment. You will also be given advice about getting back to your normal activities. You may need to ask about your specific concerns, such as driving, exercising and going back to work.
You may continue to have regular appointments with your surgeon to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and check that the cancer hasn’t come back or spread. During these check-ups, you will usually have a physical examination and you may have blood tests, x-rays or scans. You will also be able to discuss how you’re feeling and mention any concerns you may have.
When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the cancer and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.
How often you will need to see your doctor will depend on the type and stage of cancer. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your follow-up plan. Check-ups will be needed less often if you have no further problems. Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any symptoms or health problems.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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