Follow-up after treatment for bile duct cancer
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for bile duct cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists 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:
- jaundicejaundiceA condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.
- pain in the abdomen (belly)
The chance that bile duct cancer will come back (recur) is greatest within the first few years, so close follow-up is needed during this time.
Schedule for follow-up visits
Follow-up after treatment is different for each person. Regular follow-up is done if you had surgery because bile duct cancer often recurs after surgery.
Follow-up visits after surgery for bile duct cancer may be scheduled:
- every 3 months for the first 2 years
- every 6 months after the first 2 years
During follow-up visits
During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping. They may also ask about weight loss, appetite and digestion.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:
- checking for pain or an increase in pain in the abdomen or jaundice
- checking the abdomen for a lump
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, a CT scan or an MRI, may be done to see if the cancer has come back or if there is an increase in size of the cancer.
- Blood tests may also be done to check liver function.
If the cancer has come back, you and your healthcare team will discuss a plan for your treatment and care.
Questions to ask about follow-up
To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.
Support from someone who has ‘been there’
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.