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10 Questions to Ask When Your Cancer Treatment Ends

December 06, 2023

If you've reached the end of cancer treatment, you may be wondering "what's next" as you move forward navigating your new normal. “Many may find this time filled with mixed emotions - the joy of ending treatment with the anxiety and fear of recurrence,” says Deb Walker, APRN, of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute Survivorship Program. Meeting with your cancer team toward the end of treatment, she stresses, is key to best managing your individual follow-up care and helping you move forward. Here are some questions that can guide your conversation as your cancer treatment winds down, according to Walker. [insert-cta-small id=47938]

10 questions to ask your cancer team after finishing treatment.

Many patients, Walker says, want to know what signs might indicate the cancer is returning, and how to decrease their risk. “We want patients to have a smooth transition into the post-treatment phase. So we always recommend they prepare for it and think about what they want to ask,” Walker says. Specifically, she suggests asking your cancer treatment team these questions:
  1. Which doctors do I need to see after treatment and how often?
  2. What follow-up exams, tests and blood work are recommended, and how often?
  3. What symptoms should I look for and which doctor do I tell about them?
  4. How likely is it that the cancer will come back? How can I decrease the chances?
  5. Do I run the risk of developing other types of cancer or health conditions (heart or lung problems) because of the cancer treatments?
  6. What are the long-term side effects of treatment and how can I manage them? Are there supportive services to help me?
  7. What support programs - dietitians, physical/occupational therapists, integrative medicine, social workers, smoking cessation or support groups - are available to me?
  8. Can other specialists - cardio-oncology, endocrinology, dental, psychology or physical rehabilitation - help me manage treatment effects?
  9. What other health screenings are important for me to have after cancer treatment?
  10. What healthy behaviors such as diet and exercise are recommended?
> Related: How A Survivorship Program Can Help You Adjust to Life After Cancer

And most importantly - keep up-to-date with your follow-up appointments.

Follow-up care includes routine exams, following surveillance protocols, referrals for managing any treatment side effects and living a healthy lifestyle. These are key appointments to guide your health care and help you continue moving forward, Walker says. “Many patients may still have side effects from treatment as well as mixed emotions they must cope with,” she says. “Every patient is unique in their cancer journey. The emotions and some side effects that come along with a cancer diagnosis and its treatment don’t simply turn off when treatment ends. It’s important that people are patient, eat and sleep well, exercise, manage their stress, and stay connected with others.”