Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for anal cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists), the surgeon and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.
Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:
Follow-up is especially important during the first 6 months after chemoradiation. During these follow-up visits, doctors check how the cancer responded to treatment. They want to know if the anal cancer is completely gone or if it is still shrinking (tumours can continue to shrink several months after chemoradiation is finished). This helps them decide if they need to give more treatment.
The chance of anal cancer recurring is greatest within 2 years, so close follow-up is needed during this time.
The first follow-up visit usually happens 8–12 weeks after chemoradiation to check how the cancer responds to treatment.
Follow-up visits after treatment is finished are usually scheduled every 3–6 months for 5 years.
During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
Anoscopy or proctoscopy is usually done at the same time as a physical exam. A CT scan is usually done every year for 3 years if the primary tumour was large or cancer had spread to lymph nodes.
If a recurrence is found, your healthcare team will assess you to determine the best treatment options.
To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.
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