What if the cancer comes back?
Many cancers that affect young people are treated successfully. But unfortunately some cancers do come back.
This can be very scary and some people find it harder to cope with than they did when they were first diagnosed. Others find it less scary second time around as they know what to expect from hospital and treatment.
Why do cancers come back?
When cancer comes back it’s called a reccurrence. It happens because tiny cancer cells which can’t be seen with the naked eye, on scans or with blood tests, can be left behind after cancer treatment. Over time, these cells can begin to divide again and form a cancer.
Cancer can come back in the same place as it was before (which is known as a local recurrence) or somewhere different (known as a secondary cancer or metastasis). Just because cancer has come back it doesn’t mean that it can’t be cured again. Some cancers can still be treated even if they have come back for a second or third time.
Hearing the news
When you hear that a cancer has come back it can be hard to take in. You may find you can’t think clearly, or your mind may go blank. It can be hard to believe and, at times, you may feel overwhelmed. It’s important to talk to someone about your feelings.
Perhaps someone close to you, like a family member or friend? Or you might find it easier to talk to your doctor, nurse or maybe someone who you don’t know like a counsellor. As long as it’s someone you feel you can talk freely to, it’s up to you.
Even though you might be worried about the effect the news will have on your family and friends it is important to be honest about how you are feeling. That way you can get the right kind of support.