Recurrence and Chronic Cancer

Managing your cancer through its advanced stages

Sometimes, despite the best efforts of everyone who is involved in your cancer care journey, the disease may spread or even come back post a period of respite. Some forms of cancer are incurable and may continue to grow and spread over time. Cancers which cannot be cured, but can be managed through continuous treatment over several months or even years, are called chronic cancers.

Staying vigilant after treatment

It is perfectly normal to be worried that your cancer will come back after you’ve completed your treatment. Certain types of cancer have a higher risk of recurrence. It is important to have an open discussion with members of your clinical team to discuss your specific type of cancer and be aware of the risk of recurrence.

It is also important to be vigilant. Perform frequent self-examinations and schedule regular follow-up scans and check-ups with your clinician. Click here

If you experience any unexplained symptoms that cause you concern (especially if the symptoms last for longer than a few days), please contact your clinical team immediately.

When cancer comes back

It can be difficult to determine why a certain type of cancer has come back. In some cases, microscopic cancer cells can stay within the body after treatment and continue to divide and grow, causing a new lesion to form – this is called recurrence. The cancer can come back in the same part of the body (local recurrence) or a different area (secondary cancer or metastasis). Recurrent or metastatic cancer can be referred to as “advanced cancer”.

 Finding out that your cancer has come back can be a terrible shock. You may have just started to recover from your previous lines of treatment, or you may have been in remission for a while. However, it is important to stay positive and remember that even if your cancer comes back after you’ve received treatment, it is often possible to treat it again. 

For some people, the treatment may have a curative intent, i.e. it aims to get rid of the cancer again, using a new procedure, therapy or medication. For others, the treatment may aim to control the cancer for the next months or years. Whichever option your clinician recommends to you, it is important to take some time to think about it, evaluate your options and make the treatment decision that feels right for you.

When cancer persists

Some cancers do not spread or grow if they receive treatment and may be called stable cancers. However, when cancers continue to grow, spread or start to deteriorate despite the best possible treatment, it is called chronic cancer. When cancer is chronic, progression and recurrence of cancer may mean the same thing. Chronic forms of cancer may not have a cure but can be controlled for several months or even years with the help of treatments that make it more manageable and focus on improving the quality of life. Refer to this section for more information on managing cancer as a chronic illness.  Read more

If you have been living with cancer for a while and a cure is not likely, it is normal to have feelings of anxiety, anger, grief and even remorse. The diagnosis may be hard to believe and accept at first; however, it is important to find effective strategies to cope with it over time. Both as a cancer patient and caregiver, you may feel victimized by the illness and grieve at the sense of uncertainty it brings to your life.

Remember that you are still very much in control of the decisions you make about your cancer care and choices you make about the quality of your life. You can read more about managing your emotions and coping with your feelings during your cancer journey here. Read more


error: Content is protected !!