Recurrent Disease Causes and Risk Factors
Recurrence can happen if the first treatment did not completely destroy all cancer cells. This does not mean the cancer was treated insufficiently, but rather that some cancer cells were resistant and survived the treatment. These cells developed into detectable tumors over time.
Cancer survivors are at risk of developing a second type of cancer as well as cancer recurrence of the primary cancer. The chance of recurrence depends on the type of primary cancer, so cancer survivors should discuss the risk associated with their cancer type with their doctor. It is important to remember that cancer risk for both a new cancer and recurrence of the primary cancer can be reduced, but not completely eliminated. While healthy eating, avoiding tobacco use, regular exercise, and consistent follow-up doctor visits are important, cancer recurrence is still possible.
Recurrent Disease Symptoms and Signs
When treatment ends, your physician may outline specific signs or symptoms of recurrence to watch for. A follow-up care plan, including regular visits and screenings, will monitor your health for any unexpected changes. Report any symptoms to your physician immediately.
Recurrent Disease Treatment Option Considerations
- Type of cancer
- Location of recurrence
- Patient’s general health and age
- Timing of recurrence
- Extent of the spread of the cancer
- Patient’s values and wishes
- Treatment tolerance
- Potential side effects
Recurrence Disease Treatment
Patients suspecting cancer recurrence should communicate with their oncologist about any symptoms they experience. As with a primary cancer, treatments for a recurrent cancer can be used to control and eliminate cancer as well as manage pain and side effects. Participating in a clinical trial may also be an option. Treatment for recurring cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, proton therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy.