What to Expect After Treatment is Completed?

Once you have made it through treatment, you need to have close follow-up with your doctor.

This follow-up plan is recommended after being treated for a throat cancer:

  • Visit your head and neck specialist on a regular schedule (or earlier if you have any concerning symptoms). This allows your doctor to examine you for any signs that the cancer has come back.
    • For the first year, you should go every one to three months.
    • For the second year, you should go every two to six months.
    • For the third to fifth year, you should go every four to eight months.
    • After five years, you can start going every year.
  • Your doctor should select a scan to be performed in the first six months after treatment. The first scan serves as a “baseline” study for the purpose of comparing future studies. This will depend on the type, stage and location of your cancer. Imaging may include CT scans, MRI scans and PET scans. If something suspicious comes up, you might need another biopsy.
  • Consider chest imaging to check for any signs of lung cancer if you have an extensive smoking history.
  • Check your thyroid function every six to twelve months if you have had radiation to the neck area.
  • Get help with a therapist as needed for difficulties with speaking, hearing and swallowing.
  • See a specialist about appropriate nutrition and diet.
  • Alert your doctor if you experience any signs of depression.
  • Stop smoking and stop drinking.
  • See a dentist.
  • For nasopharyngeal cancer:
    • Your doctor might consider monitoring you for a virus called Epstein-Barr virus with annual blood work or imaging.
    • Because it is difficult to view the nasopharynx without imaging, routine annual imaging may be necessary.