In cancer treatment, ensuring proper follow-up care is highly important. For women diagnosed with cervical cancer, it is vital to continue the care even after the completion of the initial treatments. This is done to further prevent any reappearance of the disease in the affected individual.
The follow-up treatments for cervical cancer are handled by cancer specialists in many departments of medicine like oncology, gynecology, etc. The health care team will evaluate for any symptoms indicating the return of cancer, manage any side effects associated with it, and monitor the overall health of the individual.
The follow-up plan formulated by the health care professionals will involve periodic physical examinations as well as medical tests to observe the status of recovery over a period of months. Some of the follow-up care plans involved in post-cervical cancer treatments are described below.
Examining Signs of Recurrence
Checking for any recurrence of the disease is one of the primary objectives of follow-up care. Signs of recurrence may involve symptoms associated with cancer in the cervical region. Some of the major symptoms like pain in the pelvis, bleeding, weight loss, and changes in the bowel habits are reported among many women after their initial treatments.
The possibilities of cervical cancer recurring are high in the first two years after treatment. Therefore, strict follow-up care is needed during this vulnerable period.
Follow Up Visits
The follow-up visits for cervical cancer may involve scheduled visits to the community health care clinic every 3-4 months for the first two years after the initial treatment. The frequency of the visits will vary for the next three years to every six or twelve months. After five years, once a year visits to the doctor would be recommended.
During the follow-up care, the doctor may present you with the risks involved in the recurrence of the disease and prescribe many tests and examinations. Carrying out the necessary tests is dependent on several factors like the type and stages of cancer and the treatment types.
Medical Tests and Exams
During the follow-up care, the health care provider will seek information from the patient regarding any side effects of the treatment. Physical examinations like the pelvic exam, digital rectal exam, pap tests, etc., can also be conducted.
Pap tests are regularly done after cervical cancer treatment. A range of other tests like complete blood count (CBC), colposcopy, CT, liver ultrasound scan, chest X-Ray, PET scans, and bone scan are done to find out any new symptoms. These tests will also aid in determining how well the patient is responding to the treatment.