What are the guidelines for dealing with recurrence in cancer survivor?

Updated: Feb 28, 2018
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; more...
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Answer

Answer

Cancer recurrence is often devastating to patients. Many of them will have thought that the treatment they received had cured the disease. A clear plan by the hematologist/oncologist for followup should be outlined in the survivorship plan. Risk factors for recurrence should be thoroughly reviewed with the patient. If surveillance reveals a suspicious finding, the abnormality should be thoroughly tested. If a biopsy can be done, it should be done immediately if possible, to provide the urgent information that the patient needs and allow appropriate treatment to be started.

The amount of anxiety and emotional, physical, and psychological stress that even a screening test for recurrence can provoke in patients should not be underestimated. Certain patients even can dwell on these issues for months and years, which can lead to emotional and even physical disability. Physicians should be vigilant in asking about these issues so the appropriate referral for help can be made, including psychological consultation, help through support groups, and emotional encouragement from family, friends, and other social circles that can optimize and enhance emotional well-being. Spiritual well-being often correlates with better coping in the event of recurrence and better tolerance of ongoing treatments. [20]


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