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Follow-up after treatment for stomach cancer
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for stomach cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists (for example, oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists) 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:
- pain or an increase in pain
- problems eating or swallowing
- swelling of the abdomen
- weight loss
The chance of stomach cancer coming back (recurring) is greatest within 2 years, so close follow-up is needed during this time.
Schedule for follow-up visits
Follow-up visits for stomach cancer are usually scheduled:
- 3 months after the initial treatment
- every 3–6 months for the first 2 years
- every 6–12 months for the next 3 years
- every year after that
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 how well you’re eating if you have had surgery to remove your stomach. You’ll also likely meet with a nutritionist.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including an exam of the abdomen.
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- endoscopy to check if stomach cancer has come back
- vitamin B12 levels checked to see if you need B12 injections if you’ve had all or part of your stomach removed and the stomach can no longer absorb vitamin B12
- blood tests, including a complete blood count and blood chemistry tests
- imaging tests such as CT scans or x-rays
If a recurrence is found, your healthcare team will assess you to determine the best treatment options.
Questions to ask about follow-up
To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.