Follow-Up After Treatment
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) provides comprehensive follow-up care once you complete your cancer treatment, including visits with the same SCCA team who treated your cancer. Our patients say they find it reassuring to see the same team when they come for their follow-up visits.
Colorectal Cancer Follow-Up Schedule
After treatment there are important follow-up steps that can help you recover and stay healthy—and help your doctors watch for any signs that your cancer may have come back (recurred). One of the most important steps is to return for visits regularly, especially during the first two years after treatment.
- For the first two years, your doctor will see you for physical exams every three to six months to check your overall health and watch for any signs of recurrence.
- You will have a colonoscopy one year after surgery. Based on what is found at that time, your doctor will recommend a schedule for future colonoscopies.
- Blood tests will check for tumor markers, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). If this marker goes up, it may be an early sign of recurrence.
Be sure to report any new or ongoing symptoms to your medical oncologist or nurse practitioner right away, even if it’s not yet time for your next scheduled visit.
If you were treated at SCCA but do not live in the Seattle area, you may choose to receive your follow-up care with your local doctor. In that case, we usually ask patients to keep us up to date on their health status by telephone or mail and have their test results sent to SCCA.
Concerns About Recurrence
Many people experience some form of worry, fear, or anxiety around the time they have a follow-up appointment. A question often lingers in the back of every cancer patient’s mind: What if my cancer has come back? This is common, and the staff at SCCA can help you cope with these strong emotions and refer you to other resources that can help. If your initial colorectal cancer was found early and you are cancer-free five years after finishing treatment, it is unlikely that your cancer will ever recur. If your colorectal cancer does recur, know that there are treatment options available.
Living with a Colostomy
Sometimes people with a colostomy bag are self-conscious about it. They may worry about how they look or whether their bag smells. Whether your colostomy is temporary or permanent, we can help you learn how to care for your colostomy and adjust so you can go on with normal activities comfortably.
Once you’ve completed treatment, we encourage you to participate in SCCA’s Survivorship Clinic. This is in addition to your follow-up visits with your treatment team. The Survivorship Clinic focuses on helping you understand, prevent, or manage any late effects of your cancer or your cancer treatment. Read more about the Survivorship Clinic.