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Talking to Your Doctor About Recurrence

Cancer diagnosis begins a whirlwind journey in which the patient is focused on eradicating disease, prolonging life, and improving quality of life. The goal is always to reclaim health and we will do anything that we have to do to achieve that goal. Recurrence of cancer is not something that we think about in the beginning; we are only focused on the immediate goal right in front of us – beating cancer.

Cancer survivors, however, are straddled with the uncertainty that comes with the potential for recurrence. To manage that uncertainty – which left unchecked only serves to degrade quality of life – it’s important to talk to your doctor about the plan for life after cancer.

There are different types of recurrence and they include – local recurrence in the same place as the original diagnosis, regional recurrence in the lymph nodes connected to the original location, and distant recurrence in other parts of the body.

The risk of recurrence differs for each patient and depends on the type of cancer and the treatment the patient received. It is important to discuss the possibilities with your doctor regarding the possibility of recurrence, what to look for, and what you can potentially do to lower your risk of recurrence – including eating healthy, exercising, seeing your doctor on a regular basis for follow-up care, and having the tests that are recommended.

In the end, there’s not much that can be done to prevent recurrence other than living a healthy life. Sacrificing your health to worry about the possibilities only serves to limit your quality of life instead of living your life to the fullest. If you find yourself struggling with the uncertainty associated with recurrence – enough so that you are finding it challenging to engage in your normal activities, then it may be helpful to see a psychologist or join a support group that can help you manage these emotions.

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