Follow-up after treatment for soft tissue sarcoma
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for soft tissue sarcoma is often shared among the cancer specialists, such as surgeons and oncologists, 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:
- any new lump or swelling
- tenderness, pain or an increase in pain
The chance that soft tissue sarcoma will come back (recur) is greatest within 5 years, so you will need close follow-up during this time. Soft tissue sarcomas that are high grade and large have a high risk of coming back.
Schedule for follow-up visits
Follow-up visits for soft tissue sarcoma are usually scheduled:
- every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 to 3 years
- every 6 months for the next 2 years
- once a year after 5 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 your strength and movement and any rehabilitation you are doing to help with your recovery.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:
- checking for lumps or swollen areas
- listening to the lungs
- checking for lymphedema
- examining the stump if you’ve had an amputation
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- a CT scan or an MRI of the area where the cancer started to check if the cancer has come back
- a chest x-ray or CT scan of the chest to check if the cancer has spread to the lungs
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.
A condition in which lymph fluid builds up in tissues, causing swelling. It may occur when lymph vessels (tubes that lymph fluid travels through) or lymph nodes are blocked, damaged or removed.
Lymphedema can be a symptom of cancer or a side effect of some cancer treatments, including surgery and radiation therapy.
I was in total shock when I heard the diagnosis of cancer. Cancer to me was an adult’s disease. Being a 13-year-old teenager, it certainly wasn’t even on my radar.
Making progress in the cancer fight
The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.