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Cancer Recurrence: Things to Be Mindful of When Cancer Returns

by DR. VIKAS JAIN, SENIOR CONSULTANT : SURGICAL ONCOLOGY & ROBOTIC SURGERY. HCG Manavata Cancer Centre, Nashik

Cancer is an umbrella term for a group of diseases characterised by the untamed growth and spread of cells. With abnormal genetic composition. There are many types of cancer, and they can occur in any part of the body. Some common types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Some cancers are more likely to recur (come back) after treatment than others. The likelihood of cancer recurrence can depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, and the effectiveness of the treatment. It’s essential to note that not all cancers will recur, and there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Every tumour has different nature & aggressiveness so probability of recurrence is different for different cancers and the result of one patient should not be generalised for others.

All about cancer recurrence

Cancer recurrence, also known as cancer relapse, is a common fear among cancer survivors. It is the return of cancer after it has been previously treated. While cancer recurrence is a possibility for anyone who has had cancer, it is not inevitable and there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of cancer returning.

The factors which indicate the risk of cancer recurrence

The risk of cancer recurrence varies depending on the type of cancer and the individual circumstances of each patient. Some factors that can increase the risk of few cancer recurrence include:

Organ included in cancer

The type and stage of the cancer at the time of initial diagnosis

The type of treatment received

The response to treatment

The presence of certain genetic markers

The patient’s overall health & performance status

Patient lifestyle in some type of cancer

Ways that help prevent cancer recurrence

There are several things that cancer survivors can do to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence:

Following a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in processed foods and Red Meat can help to lower the risk of cancer. Exercise has been shown to improve overall survival rates in cancer patients and can also help to reduce the risk of few cancer recurrences.

Getting regular check-ups: It is important for cancer survivors to have regular check-ups with their primary treating team to monitor their health and detect any early changes and potential recurrence of cancer. These check-ups may include physical exams, imaging tests, and laboratory tests.

Taking prescribed medications as directed: If a cancer survivor is prescribed medication to help prevent cancer recurrence, it is important to take it as directed. This includes taking the medication at the same time each day and completing the full course of treatment.

Staying in touch with your healthcare team: Cancer survivors should stay in close contact with their healthcare team and inform them of any changes in their health or any new symptoms that may arise. This will allow for timely detection and treatment of any potential recurrence.

Seeking support: Cancer recurrence can be a difficult and stressful experience. It is important for cancer survivors to have a support system in place, whether it be friends, family, or a support group. Seeking out support can help to alleviate stress and improve the overall well-being of the cancer survivor.

Identifying the signs of cancer recurrence

It is also important for cancer survivors to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer recurrence. These may include:

  • New or any worsening symptoms that were previously resolved
  • A lump or mass
  • Unexpected weight loss , appetite loss.
  • Bleeding from anywhere
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Persistent cough or trouble breathing
  • Pain at particular site
  • Jaundice
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Difficulty in food intake or swallowing

If a cancer survivor experiences any of these symptoms, they should inform their healthcare team as soon as possible. Highly skilled doctors at HCG can enable early detection of cancer recurrence and can improve the chances of successful treatment. Treatment for cancer recurrence may depend on several factors, including the type of cancer, the location of the cancer, the extent of the recurrence, and the patient’s overall health. Some common treatment options for cancer recurrence are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be used.

Cancer recurrence is a possibility for anyone who has had cancer, but it is not imminent. By following a healthy lifestyle, getting regular check-ups, taking prescribed medications as directed, staying in touch with their healthcare team and seeking support, cancer survivors can reduce their risk of cancer recurrence and improve their chances of long-term survival. If cancer does recur, early detection and treatment can improve the chances of successful treatment.

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