Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for thyroid 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:
The chance of thyroid cancer coming back, or recurring, depends on many factors including the type and stage of the cancer. Most thyroid cancers grow slowly so the cancer could recur 10 years or more after treatment. Many years of follow-up are usually needed.
Follow-up visits for thyroid cancer are usually scheduled every 6–12 months. They may be more often if you have an aggressive type or advanced stage of thyroid cancer.
Follow-up visits are usually continued for at least 10 years. Most people should receive follow-up care for the rest of their life.
During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping. They will also ask about any symptoms you have.
Your doctor will do a physical exam which may include:
Blood tests are commonly done as a part of follow-up. You may have blood tests to check levels of the following:
Imaging tests are usually done early in the follow-up schedule and when the physical exam or blood tests suggest a problem. You may have:
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.
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.