Being aware of symptoms

Worrying about cancer coming back is very common. Ask your doctor or nurse if there are any symptoms you should look out for after treatment finishes.

Feeling worried about cancer

When treatment has finished, it is common to worry that every ache and pain you have is linked to cancer. You will still be getting used to what now feels normal for you. You will also get the usual aches and pains that most people get. This means it can be hard to know what you need to pay attention to.

How do I know if my cancer is back?

Ask your cancer team about:

  • any symptoms you should look out for
  • possible late effects that may develop because of your treatment, and what the symptoms are.

Always make sure you get your symptoms checked, even if you think they are not serious. Let your cancer doctor or nurse know if you have any new symptoms, or similar symptoms to those you had when you were diagnosed.

You can also see your GP if there is anything you are not sure about. You can have symptoms due to other things, not just the cancer. Your GP can check your symptoms and refer you for advice if needed.

You do not have to wait until your next follow-up (check-up) appointment to contact your cancer doctor or nurse. Make sure you have their contact numbers to get in touch with them. They can arrange to see you, or reassure you if the symptoms are most likely to be from your treatment.

Although it is important to be aware of changes in your body, constantly checking for symptoms or changes can make you feel more anxious. If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, talk to your doctor, specialist nurse or GP.

Worrying about cancer coming back

Worrying about the cancer coming back and struggling to cope with feelings of uncertainty is common after treatment. It can be hard to deal with at times, but will usually get better as you recover.

Certain situations may trigger these feelings. For example, this could be going back to the hospital for a test, or reading or hearing something about cancer in the news.

There are different ways to help you manage worry and uncertainty. For example, try to focus on what you can control and do now rather than worrying about things that may never happen. This could include:

You can also talk to your doctor, specialist nurse or GP. They can give you advice on ways to manage your worries.