For many people with anal cancer, treatment can extract or destroy cancer. Finishing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. One can be relieved to finish treatment, but it’s hard not to worry about recurrence cancer. It is prevalent for people who have had cancer. For some people, anal cancer may never go away completely and some people require treatments to control cancer for as long as possible, says Dr Purnendu Bhowmik, an anal cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata.
It’s necessary to go to all follow-up care appointments after completing the treatment. During these visits, the doctor asks if the patient is facing any problems. The doctor can do a physical exam, including an anus and rectal exam and a test to see if any nearby lymph nodes are enlarged. Imaging tests such as CT scans and blood tests and can also be suggested. These tests are meant to look for signs of cancer recurrence or side effects from treatment.
Most cancer treatments can have side effects. Some can only last for a few days or weeks to months, but others can last a long time. Some side effects don’t even show up until years after treatment. The follow-up appointments are an excellent time to ask questions and talk about any changes or problems one notices or concerns, says the anal canal cancer laparoscopic surgery doctor.
Doctor visits and tests
Many doctors recommend follow-up visits with physical exams for people with no signs of anal cancer. One should do the tests every 3 to 6 months for at least the first 3 years after treatment. MRIs or CT scans are also often done regularly for a certain period. These visits can be less frequent (every 6 months) for several years. Some doctors advise different follow-up schedules.
Close follow-up is essential in the first several months after chemotherapy, especially if not all the cancer is gone. As some tumours continue to shrink after chemoradiation, the doctor will want to watch cancer closely during this time. It is done to see if one might still need more treatment, says the anal cancer doctor in Kolkata.
How to lower the risk of anal cancer progressing or coming back?
People who have or have had anal cancer would want to know if they can do things that can lower their risk of the cancer growing or come back. Unfortunately, it’s not yet evident if there are things one can do that will help to prevent cancer from coming back.
Making healthy lifestyle changes such as eating well, not smoking, doing regular physical exercise and staying at a healthy weight can help, but no one knows for sure. But, it is known that these types of changes have positive effects on one’s health that can extend beyond the risk of anal cancer or other cancers. Not smoking also helps to tolerate treatments like chemotherapy and radiation much better, says Dr Purnendu Bhowmik, the anal cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata.