What happens after treatment?

Now that your treatment has ended you can focus on your recovery. Cancer can be life changing so getting back to normal may take some time. To begin with it’s not uncommon to have days when you feel less positive or are still coping with treatment side effects. So try not to expect too much straight away.

You may find you gradually get back to the routine you had before cancer treatment. Some people may have on-going physical effects following cancer treatment. In this case, you may find it takes some time to adjust to a new routine.

You may decide to make some positive lifestyle changes after finishing treatment. This may include eating healthily, being more physically active, stopping smoking , if you smoke, or taking up a complementary therapy to reduce stress.

To begin with, you’ll usually have regular follow-up appointments to check your progress and to discuss any concerns you may have. If you have any problems in between appointments always get in touch. Advice and support will be available to you even after treatment ends.

Follow-up

After your chemotherapy has finished, you will have regular check-ups and possibly scans or x-rays. These will probably continue for several years. If you have any problems, or notice any new symptoms in between your appointments, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Many people find that they get very anxious before their appointments. This is natural and it may help to get support from family or friends during this time.


Beginning to recover

Now your primary cancer treatment has ended, you may feel ready to get on with your life and look forward to the future. But it’s common to have days when you feel less positive, or to have days when you still feel some of the effects of treatment.

To begin with, it’s important not to expect too much of yourself and to accept that it will take you time to recover. If you think about everything you’ve been through, then it’s not surprising that your recovery is likely to be gradual.

You may have new challenges to cope with, such as physical effects caused by your cancer or its treatment. It usually takes time to adjust to these and to find out what’s now normal for you.

After your treatment is over, how often you’ll see your specialist for check-ups will depend on the type of cancer and the treatment you had. However, it’s important to remember that support is available to help you with any physical or emotional problems you have.

Many people find that over time they settle back into their usual routines. You may want to think about planning a holiday, seeing friends, getting out more, getting back to hobbies or sport, and going back to work.

The experience of cancer may also make you think about what’s important in your life, and you may make positive changes as a result.


Lifestyle changes

When treatment is over, you may want to think about making changes to your lifestyle and find out more about healthy living. Perhaps you already followed a healthy lifestyle before your treatment, but you now want to be more focused on making the most of your health. There are things you can do to help your body recover. These can also help improve your sense of well-being and lower your risk of getting other illnesses and other cancers.

Eating well

It’s important to have a nutritious and well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, even if your appetite and interest in food have been reduced.

Smoking

If you’re a smoker, it’s important to try to give up. Smoking can delay your recovery and puts you at greater risk of developing a second cancer.

Giving up smoking can be difficult but there is lots of support available.

Regular physical activity

This can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can help you to feel better in yourself and help to build up your energy levels. Keeping active can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Talk to your cancer specialist or GP before you start exercising. Start slowly and increase your activity over time.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies may help you feel better and reduce any stress and anxiety. Relaxation, counselling and psychological support are available at some hospitals.  Although these are not widely available, some hospitals may offer visualisation, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and hypnotherapy. Therapies are sometimes available through cancer support groups or your GP. Many complementary therapists also have private practices.

Our information on cancer and complementary therapies tells you about different therapies and gives advice on choosing a therapist.

Not all complementary therapies are suitable for people who have just finished treatment, so it’s important to check with your healthcare team first if you’re thinking of having one.


Back to Chemotherapy explained

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is usually given by injection or as tablets.

Your feelings

You may experience difficult feelings while having chemotherapy treatment. Talking these over can be helpful.

Where can you have chemotherapy?

You usually have chemotherapy in a chemotherapy day unit or clinic. If your treatment is more complex, you may need to stay in hospital.

Who might I meet?

A team of medical specialists will be involved throughout the course of your chemotherapy treatment.