Follow-up is the set of periodic check-ups to undergo after the tumor has been cured. The checks are intended to exclude that the tumor has recurred or spread to other parts of the body but also have the aim of identifying a recurrence early in order to treat it immediately.
The basic controls for effective follow-up are the following:
- Medical visits to check general health
- Blood tests especially the dosage of tumor markers
- Instrumental examinations (CT, MRI, scintigraphy, ultrasound, X-ray, PET, colonoscopy …) to exclude or identify the presence of an anomaly
Very often, at the end of the oncological treatments there is a tendency to underestimate the importance of the check-ups. This is a mistake. Controls are necessary because unfortunately cancer is a chronic disease that can recur even after many years from diagnosis.
The frequency of follow-ups is variable and can last even years. Usually, during the “early follow-up” (usually the first 5 years), the oncologist will guide the patient in the various check-ups; subsequently, during the “late follow-up”, the general medicine specialist will intervene.
During follow-up, patients can lead an absolutely normal life, being very careful, however, to keep out unhealthy lifestyles.