Life after treatment for primary bone cancer
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after treatment for primary bone 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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Being diagnosed with a rare cancer can be overwhelming. The physical changes that occur after treatment for bone cancer can affect your body image and self-esteem. It is natural to focus on the part of your body that has changed. Give yourself time to adapt to any changes in your appearance.
Limb-sparing surgery is a major operation that can leave a visible scar and skin tightness. If you have a limb amputated, it can take several months to feel comfortable with the prosthesis. You may avoid socialising with other people because of anxiety about how you look or because you find it difficult to move around. Physiotherapy can help you regain flexibility and improve movement.
Most people need emotional support before and after treatment, particularly if they have an amputation or a lot of bone is removed. You may feel emotions of grief and loss. Many people find it helps to talk things through with a counsellor, psychologist, friend or family member. Talk to your treating team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 about support services available in your area.
For more information on coping with the emotional impact of bone cancer, see Emotions and cancer.
After treatment, you will need check-ups every 3–12 months for several years to confirm that the cancer hasn’t come back and to help you manage any treatment side effects. You will have a physical examination, and may have further imaging scans.
How often you will need to see your doctor will vary depending on the type of bone cancer. Appointments will become less frequent if you have no further problems.
Let your doctor know immediately of any health problems between appointments. Your doctor will tell you about things to look for and what to do if you think the bone cancer has come back.
Dr Richard Boyle, Orthopaedic Oncology Surgeon, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Sarat Chander, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; James Hyett, Consumer; Rebecca James, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Warren Joubert, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Kristyn Schilling, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Cancer Outreach Program, St George Hospital, NSW; Prof Paul N Smith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Orthopaedics ACT.
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