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When checkups drop to every 6 months

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hello, I am just wondering when checkups finally drop down to every 6 months and then just once/year....I have heard after 2 and I have also heard after 3. I have heard you are "out of the woods" after 3 and then also, not till 5.
I realize that the more time goes by the better off you are, but I was just wondering what you all had been told.
Thanks, Susan.

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003


I know there are different standards for different docs., but this is what I have been doing:

0 - 1 year; Cat scans of chest abd and pelvis every 3 mos with blood work including cea level. I saw my oncologist and surgeon every 3 mos

1 - 2 years - cat scans and blood work every 4 mos

2 - 3 years - cat scans and bloodwork every 6 mos

I am 2 1/2 years post surgery. I think I want to continue every 6 mos scans and blood work

My onc says after 3 years I am considered cured. The surgeon says 5 years.

I have also had a yearly pet scan and colonoscopy. I am having a scope on Monday. This will be my first thru the stoma.

I also see my regular doc, so it seems like every few months I see someone.

My onc told me that after 5 years I will no longer be watched for cancer . Scary!!!

I went to the Lance Armstrong survivor clinic at Dana Farber. I wanted to make sure that I am having all the right tests and that all the feelings that I have are normal. Now that I have finished all my treatmnets, I am so afraid that the cancer will come back. I was told this is normal. I guess I will forever feel like that.

Thats just my take on things.


kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Susan. For me;
2 years NED next month;
0-2 YEARS----abdominal ultrasounds 3 monthly, bloods 2 monthly.
Currently changed to;
CT scans 6 monthly, bloods 3 monthly with a colonoscopy scheduled for August this year.
Both my onc. and surgeon said that after 5 years they would consider totally free of cancer and after 7 years they would expect never to see me again although colonoscopies would be an ongoing surveillance.
Scared?....yup......I think that the worry has eased somewhat but still think that it will always be on my mind.
cheers, Ross n Jen

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

The pendulum really swings....probably from country to region to how doctors were trained and what procedure they follow. I do not think that there is a strict standard; it could go person to person depending on severity of individual situations.....So that is a lot of hard info, huh? I think it also depends on how you feel as an individual - if you want to handle CT scans at certain intervals, etc. If you really like your onc you can ask for a few differnt options or strategies - or you can seek a few other medical aopinions based on your chart......Anyway, all the best to you and I am sure that you will find a regimen which keeps you informed and not going crazy!! - Maura

ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Susan, I had a year of chem with regular bood tests to monitor cell counts ie red and white. each year I have a colonoscopy basically because they keep finding little benign polyps every couple of years . The first two years I had 6 monthly ct scans and 3 monthly blood tests for the first three years . Yrs 4 and 5 I had one ct each year and blood tests at 6 monthly intervals. At year 5 end my surgeon declared me cured of that tumour but with a warning that as I had fulfilled the criteria for getting ca I should be extremely vigilant have my regular colonoscopies and have at least one blood test for cea a year. His concern being new cancers. I have done all of the above and have had scans on occasions when they thought there was a problem Ie duodenal ulcers ,peptic ulcers ,pancreatitis and gallbladder problems. All of which were cleared of cancer. My doctors tend to worry more about cancer than I do ,I've gotten very used to my body and what the symptoms are from. At 8 yrs I am on 2 yrly scopes and the occassional blood test and am considered totally cured to the extent that I can once more donate blood. That history started at stage 3 with 6 bad nodes,so stay on the alert ,you are your own best friend when it comes to your health ,if you think you have a problem ,you probably do, just not neccesarily cancer,good luck for the future Ron.

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Thanks guys. I have a checkup coming up in about a month and as usual, around 4-6 weeks beforehand I start getting extreme anxiety. It is not as though I feel that anything is wrong, it is just the whole experience, the memories and all that stuff. I am currently getting tested every 4 months and am over one year out from treatment....I got past that one year mark and for some reason I thought that I would stop worrying. Like there was a magic time limit on worrying. Not true! I wish there was....
I am very anxious to get down to every 6 months but I am concerned that my surgeon (also primary oncologist) will want me to keep coming evey 4 months for 3 years total, instead of 2 because of my history. It's just that the testing and the stress of going to Houston and all is practically overwhelming.
Unlike Maureen I am very excited for the day that I will "no longer be watched for cancer". Although I have a feeling my docs will always want to see me at least once a year. But that's OK!
Anyway, I do count my blessings. I just wish there was a way to speed up time!
Take care all,

Anonymous user (not verified)

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Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I was told that the chance of recurrence drops dramatically after 2 years (something like 80+% of recurrences occur within the first two years). Also, although five years is the traditional cut-off for "cure" for all cancers, I was told that, due to improvements in treatment, this may need to be extended now -- that is, it is possible to have recurrences after 5 years. I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news! It is mixed news, if you think about it -- nice that treatments have extended life expectancy for so many.....But it does mean a little longer before that sigh of semi-relief......(Not that I expect to ever completely relax my vigilance!).

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