Ending prostate cancer treatment can be both exciting and challenging. Most men are relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment, but many also feel sadness and worry. Many are concerned about whether the cancer will come back and what they should do after treatment.
When treatment ends, people often expect life to return to the way it was before they were diagnosed. This rarely happens. You may have permanent scars on your body, or you may not easily be able to do some things you once did. Others may think of you - or you may view yourself - as being somehow different.
It is natural for anyone who has finished cancer treatment to be concerned about what the future holds. Many people worry about the way they look and feel and about whether the cancer will come back. Understanding what to expect after cancer treatment can help you and your family plan for follow-up care, make lifestyle changes, stay hopeful and make important decisions.
Talk to your doctor about follow-up care
All cancer survivors should have follow-up care after treatment is finished. It will allow you to work with your doctor to get your questions answered.
It's important to find out:
- What symptoms should I look for?
- Which doctors will I see after treatment?
- How often will I need to see my doctor?
- What tests will I need?
- What can I do to relieve pain (or other problems) after treatment?
- How long will it take to recover from treatment and feel more like myself?
Dealing with these issues can be a challenge. Yet many say that getting involved in decisions about future medical care and lifestyle is a good way to regain control that may have been lost during cancer treatment. Research has shown that people who feel more in control feel and function better than those who do not.
Being an active partner with your doctor and getting help from other members of your health care team is the first step in ensuring your future health.
What to expect at checkups
Follow-up care means seeing a doctor to get regular medical checkups. At these visits your doctor will:
- Review your medical history
- Examine your body
Your doctor may also run these tests:
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA)
- Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Bone scans
Why is follow-up care important?
The purpose of follow-up care is to determine if your cancer has returned or spread to another part of your body (metastasis).
It can also:
- Find other types of cancer
- Help spot side effects that can develop long after treatment
In addition to addressing your medical issues, follow-up care may focus on:
- Your mind and your feelings
- Your social relationships
- Job and insurance issues