When you finish active treatment be sure that your doctor provides you a written summary of all care that you received during treatment and a plan for follow-up visits and tests. This summary should also be given to your primary health care provider so that your cancer care and overall health care can be coordinated.
Comprehensive Care Summary
- What tests were done to diagnosis your colon or rectal cancer, including their results and when and where they were done?
- What exactly was your diagnosis? What was the stage, location of tumors, and levels of markers such as CEA?
- What family or personal medical history is important to your diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up?
- What surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy did you receive, including dates, dosages and reactions?
- What clinical trials were you part of?
- What other services did you receive — nutrition, psychological support, home health care, genetic counseling?
- What is the full contact information for all the places you were treated and for key treatment providers?
- Who is the key person who will coordinate your follow-up care and how will you contact that person?
An organized, comprehensive care summary from your treatment team is essential and could improve your health, be critical if you have to change doctors, and possibly affect your quality of life after cancer.
Get a Follow-Up Plan – and Follow It
- What follow-up care will you need?
- Who will you call to schedule it?
- What’s the timing of the tests and procedures and who will provide them?
- What longer term side effects should you expect from your treatments and when might you expect to experience them?
- What are signs or symptoms of a possible recurrence or a new cancer?
- What healthy behaviors might help prevent recurrence?
- What symptoms merit a call to the doctor?
- Are there medicines or nutritional supplements that you should be taking?
- Do you need referrals to other health services such as genetic counseling?
- How do you contact the people who will provide health services after your treatment?
Where Can You Go for More Information
Institute of Medicine Cancer Survivorship Care Planning Fact Sheet provides specific elements of a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan taken from the IOM report From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition.
Cancer.net, a patient information resource from the American Society for Clinical Oncology, has colon and rectal cancer follow-up guidelines from ASCO for survivors including a helpful chart.
The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has developed templates that can be used for survivorship plans after colon cancer treatment.