- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Living well after cancer
- Fear of the cancer returning
- Will the cancer come back?
Will the cancer come back?
You may wonder how likely it is that the cancer will come back or how long people with the same type of cancer live. Cancer is most likely to recur in the first five years after treatment ends. Generally, the more time that goes by, the less likely it is that the cancer will come back (see Survival statistics).
The risk of cancer coming back is different for each person and depends on many factors, including the type and stage of cancer, genetic factors, type of treatment and time since treatment. Your specialist can discuss your risk with you.
Living with advanced cancer
For some people, cancer does come back after treatment. Advanced cancer usually can’t be cured, but it can often be controlled. Sometimes treatment can shrink the cancer, stop or slow the spread of advanced cancer, or relieve side effects. This can help maintain quality of life for several years.
The information in this section is for people who have finished primary cancer treatment. For information about dealing with the emotional, practical and physical aspects of a cancer recurrence, see Living with advanced cancer, listen to our podcast on advanced cancer or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Podcast: Managing Fear
Prof Michael Jefford, Medical Oncologist and Director, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Lucy Bailey, Nurse Counsellor, Cancer Council Queensland; Philip Bullas, Consumer; Dr Kate Gunn, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, SA; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Kim Kerin-Ayres, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Survivorship, Concord Hospital, NSW; Sally Littlewood, Physiotherapist, Seymour Health, VIC; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health,VIC; Melanie Moore, Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Supervisor, University of Canberra Cancer Wellness Clinic, ACT; June Savva, Senior Clinician Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash Cancer Centre, Monash Health, VIC; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner and Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, NSW; Prof Janette Vardy, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre and Professor of Cancer Medicine, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lyndell Wills, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.