What happens after treatment?

When your treatment has finished, you will still have regular check-ups at the hospital. These might continue for several years. If you have any problems or new symptoms between appointments, let your doctor or nurse know as soon as possible.

You’ll probably be relieved that treatment is over. But you may still be coping with some side effects and have mixed feelings. Recovery takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

There are things you can do to help improve your overall well-being. If you’ve had surgery, it can take time to adjust to changes in the way you now eat. Try to eat healthily – this can give you more energy and help your recovery. If you have eating difficulties or are losing weight ask your doctor or dietitian for advice. If you smoke, you may decide to improve your health by giving up. Gradually building up your physical activity can give you more energy.

Some people find it helps to talk about their experiences and feelings. You could share your story by becoming a Macmillan Cancer Voice.

After treatment

During and after your treatment, you will usually have regular appointments at the outpatient clinic at the hospital. You will usually have regular talks with someone from your cancer team. This may be your surgeon, specialist doctor, nurse or another health professional.

During your appointment, your doctor or nurse may examine you and check your blood results. They will talk to you about what to expect during and after treatment. They will ask you about how you are feeling, if you are eating well, or about any symptoms or worries you have. If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms between appointments, let your doctor or specialist nurse know as soon as possible.

Some hospitals provide a treatment summary that describes:

  • the treatment you’ve had
  • what you should expect
  • details of the follow-up or tests you’ll have.

You keep a copy and the hospital should send a copy to your GP. You may have your follow-up appointments with your GP. This is called a shared care agreement.

Many people find they get very anxious before appointments. This is natural and it may help to get support from family or friends during this time.

Some cancer teams use holistic needs assessments (HNA) to plan your care. Your team may write a care plan based on this. This should give information about the support you are getting and other services that may be useful. You should have a copy of the care plan and can update it whenever you need to. You can use it at follow-up appointments or when you see your GP or other doctor.

These treatment summaries, assessments and care plans aren’t used everywhere, but more hospitals are starting to use them.

Stay as fit and active as you possibly can. This makes a huge difference after the surgery.

Lyn


Well-being and recovery

After  treatment, you’ll probably be relieved that it’s over. But you may still be coping with some treatment side effects and with some difficult feelings. You’ll probably be very tired. Recovery takes time, so try not to be too hard on yourself.

There are some things you can do to improve your well-being. You might choose to make some positive lifestyle changes to make the most of your health.

Stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, giving up is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. Smoking increases the risk of smoking-related cancers and heart disease.

Eat healthily and stick to sensible drinking

If you’ve had surgery, it will take time to adjust to changes in the way you now eat. We have more information on eating after surgery which includes some helpful advice.

Try to eat healthily. This will give you more energy and help your recovery. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – aim for five portions a day. Cut down on red, smoked and processed meats (such as bacon and sausages), and eat more chicken and fish.

If you drink, stick to sensible amounts. NHS guidelines suggest that both men and women should:

  • not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week
  • spread the alcohol units they drink in a week over three or more days
  • try to have several alcohol-free days every week.

A unit of alcohol is half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider, one small glass (125ml) of wine, or a single measure (25ml) of spirits.

There is more information about alcohol and drinking guidelines at drinkaware.co.uk

Be physically active

Being active helps to build up your energy levels. It also helps to reduce stress and the risk of other health conditions.

It’s very important to continue to have meals and mealtimes with friends and family, to continue to have a good routine, to sit down and enjoy the food.

Claudia, specialist dietitian

I have now realised that it will take a while to recover but I will get there.

Donna

Your whole digestive system will need to readjust and that takes time and effort on the part of yourself, dieticians, and other health professionals.

Lyn


Share your experience

When treatment finishes, some people find it helps to talk about it and share their thoughts, feelings and advice with other people. We can help you share your story by becoming a Cancer Voice.

Back to Treating

Making treatment decisions

Your doctors may tell you there are different options for your treatment. Having the right information will help you make the right decision for you.

Surgery

Surgery involves removing all or part of the cancer with an operation. It is an important treatment for many cancers.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat many different types of cancer. It is most commonly given as an injection into a vein or as tablets or capsules.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays, usually x-rays and similar rays (such as electrons) to treat cancer.

Clinical trials

Many people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.