Life after treatment
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment can present 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”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
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.
For more on this, see Living well after cancer
Learn more about:
- Follow-up appointments
- Having CA125 blood tests
- Dealing with feelings of sadness
- Looking after yourself
After treatment ends, you will have regular appointments to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and look for any signs that the cancer has come back or spread. These are known as follow-up appointments.
In most cases, your follow-up appointments will be with your gynaecological oncologist or medical oncologist, who may do a physical examination and arrange blood tests or scans such as ultrasounds and CT scans. You will also be able to discuss how you are feeling and mention any concerns you may have.
There is no set follow-up schedule for ovarian cancer, but people commonly see their specialist every three months for the first two years, and every four to six months for the next two years. Some people prefer not to follow a schedule but to see their specialist if they experience symptoms. Check with your doctor if you are unsure of your follow-up plan.
Your check-ups will become less frequent if you have no further problems. Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any symptoms or health problems.
|When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, you may find that you think more about the cancer and feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.|
Having CA125 blood tests
Your specialist will also talk to you about the advantages and disadvantages of having regular CA125 blood tests. This test is optional; research has found that waiting until new symptoms develop before starting treatment is just as effective as starting treatment earlier. This means that your quality of life is better for longer because side effects of further treatment are delayed.
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 can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
The Thing About Cancer podcastListen to our podcast The Thing About Cancer for information and insights that can help you navigate through the challenges of living with cancer.
Looking after yourself
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment. Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise after a cancer diagnosis, Complementary therapies, Emotions and cancer, Nutrition and cancer, Sexuality, intimacy and cancer, Fertility and cancer, and Living well after cancer.
|Alternative therapies are therapies used instead of conventional medical treatments. These are unlikely to be scientifically tested and may prevent successful treatment of the cancer. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies as a cancer treatment.|
I am glad my doctor helped me work through the emotions of what was my top priority. I finally felt that overcoming cancer and getting on with my life were most important and everything else came after that. — Tony
A/Prof Sam Saidi, Senior Staff Specialist, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; A/Prof Penny Blomfield, Gynaecological Oncologist, Hobart Women’s Specialists, and Chair, Australian Society of Gynaecologic Oncologists, TAS; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Sonja Kingston, Consumer; Clinical A/Prof Judy Kirk, Head, Familial Cancer Service, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Linda Mileshkin, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Researcher, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Support Team, Ovarian Cancer Australia; Emily Stevens, Gynaecology Oncology Nurse Coordinator, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Amy Vassallo, Fussell Family Foundation Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Merran Williams, Consumer.
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Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Coping with cancer?
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Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Exercise and cancer
Exercise helps most people during cancer treatment. Find out which exercises are best for you, and watch our series of exercise videos
Relaxation and meditation
Learn how relaxation and mediation can help you both during and after cancer treatment, or listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks