Follow-up care for bowel cancer
After treatment for bowel cancer, follow-up care will be arranged to check that the cancer is not returning.
How is a recurrence of bowel cancer detected?
Early detection is important for successful treatment of a recurring bowel cancer. Make sure your doctor knows about any signs or symptoms of the cancer returning or any other changes to your health.
Routine appointments after treatment also give you a chance to talk about other concerns, such as more prevention measures, your diet, any new treatments available, or any other health concerns.
Follow-up care after your treatment for bowel cancer will involve regular check-ups, which may include:
- Physical examination. To check for any signs of recurrence.
- Blood tests. You will probably have a blood test at each check-up with your specialist. These may include the CEA test. Some, but not all, cancers shed a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) into the bloodstream. This CEA protein can be a sign that bowel cancer has returned, although it may have other causes.
- A colonoscopy. A flexible tube with a small camera on the end is passed through your rectum into your bowel so that the doctor can examine the bowel lining.
- Scans - including CT scan and liver ultrasound.
You will usually have a check-up six weeks after surgery and then every few months at first. If there are no problems, check-ups will become less frequent. If you are concerned, or have any symptoms, don’t wait until your next check-up to see your doctor.