Follow-up after treatment for thymus cancer
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for thymus cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.
Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:
- a cough that doesn’t go away
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
The chance that thymus cancer will come back (recur) depends on the type and stage of thymus cancer. Thymic carcinoma and more advanced stages of thymus cancer have the greatest risk of coming back within 3 years, so you will need close follow-up during this time. Since early stages of thymoma can come back 10 to 20 years after diagnosis, long-term follow-up is also important.
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Follow-up visits for thymus cancer are usually scheduled at least every 6 months for the first 2 to 3 years. After this, follow-up is usually done once a year for at least 10 years. Talk to your doctor about the best schedule for you.
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During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping. They may also ask about any symptoms you are having.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:
- checking the surgical cut (incision) on the chest
- feeling lymph nodes in the neck and chest
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have a CT scan of the chest every 6 to 12 months to check if the cancer has come back.
If the cancer has come back, you and your healthcare team will discuss a plan for your treatment and care.
Alberta Health Services. Thymic Neoplasms Clinical Practice Guideline LU-008 (Version 2). 2012: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/hp/cancer/if-hp-cancer-guide-lu008-thymic.pdf.
American Cancer Society. Thymus Cancer: After Treatment. 2014: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/thymus-cancer/after-treatment.html.
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Thymoma. 2016: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/thymoma.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Thymomas and Thymic Carcinomas (Version 1.2017). 2017.