Preparing for the end of treatment

As you come to the end of your treatment it can help to talk to someone from your cancer team. They will tell you what to expect after treatment ends and ask about your concerns.

This discussion may be called a holistic needs assessment or an end of treatment assessment and it may be given to you as part of a care plan. Not all hospitals do this. If you do have a care plan you can take it along to any appointments with your GP. 

It’s good to know what to expect when your treatment ends. So you may want to ask about things like:

  • how often and for how long you will have check ups
  • whether you will have regular scans or tests
  • what signs and symptoms to look out for
  • how you can reduce the risk of the cancer coming back
  • any late effects and anything you can do to reduce the risk
  • how to stay healthy.

There will be someone from your cancer team who acts as your main contact. They might be called a key worker or it might be your specialist nurse. They will give you their number so you can contact them with any concerns.

When your treatment finishes

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

In some hospitals, this is called a holistic needs assessment or end of treatment assessment. You might have a care plan made up based on this. This should give information about the support you’re getting and other services that may be useful. Ideally, you should have a copy. You can use it at your follow up appointments, and when you see your GP or any other doctor about a condition not related to cancer. You can update your care plan whenever you need to.

Some hospitals produce a treatment summary at the end of your treatment. It describes the treatment you’ve had, what you should expect and details of the follow-up or tests you’ll have. You keep a copy and the hospital should send another to your GP.

End of treatment assessments, care plans and treatment summaries aren’t yet standard practice in the NHS, but more hospitals are moving towards this. How and when it’s done will depend on the type of cancer and its treatment. It may be done formally or in an informal way.

You will always have the chance to talk to someone from your cancer team before your treatment ends. It’s a good idea to prepare for this and think about what you’d like to ask.

What you should know

Ask who your main contact will be when you finish treatment. You can contact them if you have any concerns about the cancer or treatment. In some hospitals this is called your key worker. It may be your clinical nurse specialist or another member of your cancer team.

Make sure you have their contact details. Store them in your mobile phone or keep them somewhere you can find them easily. It’s also a good idea to keep in touch with your GP when you’re coming to the end of treatment.

Knowing what happens next and what to expect are important to help you to adjust to life after treatment.

Things you may want to ask before your treatment finishes include:

  • how often you will you have regular reviews or check-ups from your cancer team
  • how long they will go on for (for example, 1–2 years or longer)
  • what regular blood tests, scans or investigations you may need to have and when these will be done
  • if there are any signs or symptoms you should look out for that might suggest the cancer is coming back
  • how to contact your team quickly (directly or through your GP) if you are worried.

You can also ask for information and advice on:

  • any late effects (side effects that can happen months or years later) of the treatments you’ve 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
  • whether there are any health and well being clinics or exercise or survivorship programmes you can attend.

Back to Beginning to recover

Lifestyle and well-being

Looking after yourself and doing some physical activity can be an important part of your recovery.