Preparing for the end of treatment

Some hospitals do a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) at the end of your treatment. You answer questions and then talk with someone from your cancer team. They find ways to deal with your concerns and tell you what to expect after treatment. You may be given a care plan based on this. Other hospitals may give you a treatment summary explaining what to expect after treatment.

Not all hospitals do HNAs or treatment summaries. But you can talk to someone from your cancer team before treatment ends. You’ll also be given a main contact (key worker). This could be your clinical nurse specialist or another member of your team.

Before treatment finishes you could ask:

  • how often you’ll have check-ups
  • what your follow-up care involves and any tests you may need
  • are there any symptoms you should look out for?

Some people see their GP or practice nurse about six months after diagnosis for a Cancer Care Review. They help you understand what to look out for and when you might need to contact your cancer team for advice.

When your treatment finishes

As you come to the end of your treatment, you usually have a discussion with someone from your cancer team. Your discussion will usually be with your specialist doctor or nurse, or another health professional. They will talk to you about what to expect after treatment finishes. They will also ask you about any concerns or specific needs you have.

In some hospitals, this discussion is called a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA). You answer a set of questions about all areas of your life, to see whether you have any concerns. You then have a discussion with a member of your healthcare team, to talk about the issues you have and think of possible solutions.

You may have a care plan created based on your HNA. A care plan explains how you will be supported now and in the future, and other services that may be useful. You should be given a copy that you can share with other members of your healthcare team. You can update your care plan whenever you need to.

Some hospitals create a document called a treatment summary. It usually includes:

  • the treatment you have had
  • what to expect after treatment
  • any follow-up care or tests you need
  • contact details of your cancer team.

You will be given a copy to keep and the hospital should send another copy to your GP.

Holistic Needs Assessments, care plans and treatment summaries are not standard practice in all hospitals. But more hospitals are doing them. It may happen in the ways we have described, or it could be done in a more informal way. You will always have the chance to talk to someone from your cancer team before your treatment ends. It is a good idea to prepare for this and think about what you would like to ask.

You may hear some health professionals talk about the Recovery Package. This is a term that combines all the options above. It also includes a Cancer Care Review (below) with your GP and information about any health and well-being events. It is aimed at improving your quality of life during and after treatment.


Having a Cancer Care Review

You may see your GP or practice nurse about six months after you have been diagnosed with cancer. This is sometimes called a Cancer Care Review. They will talk to you about the cancer and the treatment you have had. They can help you understand which symptoms to look out for and when you might need to contact your cancer team for advice.

It is a chance to talk about how you are feeling, if your concerns have changed and any new worries that have. Your GP can tell you about the kind of support that is available in your area. If you have a care plan or treatment summary, take these with you when you see your GP.

Even if your GP does not routinely do Cancer Care Reviews, they can still give you support and advice.


Getting support

Ask who your main contact will be when you finish treatment. This person is sometimes called your key worker. They may be your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or another member of your cancer team. You can contact them if you have any concerns about the cancer or treatment. Store their contact details in your mobile phone or somewhere you can find them easily.

You could also see your GP to let them know you are coming to the end of treatment and talk about any concerns you may have.

Knowing what to expect can help you to adjust to life after treatment. Some things you may want to ask include:

  • how often you will have regular reviews or check-ups and how long for (for example, 1 to 2 years or longer)
  • what regular blood tests, scans or tests you may need and how often will they be done
  • are there any signs or symptoms you should look out for and let your cancer team know about
  • how to contact your team quickly (directly or through your GP) if you are worried.

You may also want information and advice about:

  • managing any side effects or symptoms you have
  • any late effects (side effects that can happen months or years later) of the treatments you have had, and anything you can do to reduce the risk of these
  • anything you can do that may reduce the risk of the cancer coming back
  • what you can do to stay generally healthy and well
  • if there are any health and well-being clinics or events, physical activity or survivorship programmes you can attend.

I had 18 months of treatment and when you get to the end, everybody around you thinks, "Oh, you're better now". But in fact, that's just the start of it.

Zahra

Back to Finishing treatment

Holistic Needs Assessment

Cancer can affect many areas of your life. This is why you may be offered a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA).