What to Expect After Treatment

After treatment, patients should follow-up with their doctors on a regular basis.

Patients should visit their head and neck specialist on a regular schedule (or earlier if they have any concerning symptoms). This allows doctors to monitor the patient for any sign that the cancer has returned. The best timeline for follow-up will be determined by the doctor.

Standard Follow-up Schedule

  • For the first year, go every 1-3 months.
  • For the second year, go every 2-6 months.
  • For the third to fifth year, go every 4-8 months.
  • After five years, start going once annually.

Doctors may select a scan to be performed in the first 6 months after treatment. The first scan serves as a “baseline” study for the purpose of comparing future studies. This will depend on the type and location of the cancer. Imaging could range from something as simple as a quick chest X-ray to more extensive tests such as a CT, MRI, or PET scan. If something suspicious comes up, a patient may need a biospy.  Patients should also seek help from a speech therapist for difficulties with speaking or swallowing. They can help with concerns about diet and nutrition, too.