After completing treatment, many people go into a period of remission, where there is no evidence of ovarian cancer.
Members of your healthcare team will talk with you about your follow-up care. Follow-up programs are designed to monitor your health and provide you with ongoing physical and emotional support.
At the completion of your treatment, your team may provide you with a treatment summary and explain the plan for your follow up visits. This may be scheduled with your treating team, or for those living in regional or remote areas this may be done with your GP who will consult with your oncologist as needed.
Survivorship care plan
Below is a list of what is commonly included in a Follow up or Survivorship Plan
Your diagnosis and the tests that were used to reach your diagnosis.
A summary of the treatment you received and any side effects you may have experienced.
Treatment plans from various healthcare team members (this may include physiotherapists, dietitians, psychologists, occupational therapists, etc)
Potential longer term / late effects of treatment and how these will be prevented or treated.
Information about supportive care based on a needs assessment
A wellness plan with wellbeing and rehabilitation recommendations (such as goals around maintaining a healthy weight, including the barriers you might encounter and strategies to address these)
Preventive health recommendations relevant to your situation e.g. exercise and nutrition programs
Contact information for key members of your healthcare team.
Things that may trigger a review of your plan (such as evidence of recurrence)
How to access care if needed (including rapid re-entry into hospital system).
You can ask your treating team if you wish to contribute to your survivorship care plan by speaking with your specialist, GP, nurse or any member of your healthcare team. This plan is a guide for your follow up and can be updated to reflect your changing needs
Signs and symptoms to be aware of:
It is important to report any new, unusual, or worrying symptoms to your doctor and not wait until your next scheduled appointment. Symptoms may be vague, or due to other health conditions, but the following list of symptoms should be checked by a health professional as soon as possible.
bleeding from your vagina or rectum
abdominal bloating or swelling
unexplained weight loss or change in appetite
changes in bowel habit (e.g. persistent diarrhoea or constipation) or urinary problems
New and persistent
masses (e.g. lumps in your neck or groin)
cough or problems breathing
nausea and/or vomiting
The follow-up schedule outlines what tests and appointments you will need in the future. These will depend on your own cancer – its stage and the treatments you have received. The follow-up schedule may look something like this, however it may be different.
|When (after finishing treatment)
|Until year 2
|Years 3 to 4
|4 to 6 months
What the appointment will entail
Review and examination carried out by one of your treating specialist doctors – includes pelvic examination, physical examination and CA125 marker if warranted. Further tests (computed tomography, positron emission tomography, CA125, magnetic resonance imaging) if recurrence suspected.
Tips on Managing Anxiety Associated with Follow Up Visits
Many people report feeling anxious in the lead up to a scheduled follow up visit. This is completely normal and may begin weeks, days, or hours before your appointment. You may feel worried about returning to the hospital where you received your treatment due to associated memories. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and try to manage them as best you can.
Some helpful tips include:
taking someone you trust with you to your appointment
plan something nice to do either before or after your appointment like going out for lunch or to see a movie
remind yourself that attending your follow up visits is your way of taking care of yourself and managing problems early if or when they may arise
prepare for your appointment by writing down any question or concerns you may have prior to your appointment (it is easy to forget during your appointment when you may be feeling overwhelmed)
some people may find meditation or mindfulness exercises help to keep them calm before their appointment
seeking support from a counsellor or psychologist may assist you with managing anxiety and worry associated with follow-up visits