Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Life After Cancer

Once your active treatment is complete, you may wonder what happens. The transition to this phase of survivorship is unique for each period. You can also download ASCO's booklet (PDF) on this topic to help you during this transition.

Keep a Written Record of Your Treatment

Download forms to fill out with your doctor about what treatment(s) you received and outline the schedule for follow-up care.

Read about keeping a complete record of your medical care and the importance of doing so.

Learn the definitions of medical terms you may hear after your cancer treatment is completed.

Manage Side Effects

Learn more about more than 40 common side effects of cancer and its treatment, including ways your health care team can treat them.

Find out more about the symptoms and management of common side effects that survivors may experience after the treatment period is over, called late effects.

Read detailed information about long-term and late effects for childhood cancer survivors.

Take Action

Get an introduction to survivorship in a post-treatment period, including adjusting to various life changes that often follow treatment for cancer.

Explore the role of patient advocates in the cancer community, find information on ASCO's patient advocacy programs, and learn more about public policy advocacy.

Learn more about donating your time as a volunteer to a cancer organization or treatment center.

Get guidance on setting realistic goals when making lifestyle changes such as better nutrition or more physical activity.

Learn about different ways to mark milestones in your cancer treatment plan and survivorship.

Find more assistance with this list of organizations that focus on survivorship.

Expert Q&A: What Comes Next After Finishing Treatment

As people complete their cancer treatment, they may experience a range of emotions, from relief that treatment is over to apprehension about the future. In some ways, this transition is one of the least understood aspects of the cancer experience. Cancer.Net talked with Lidia Schapira, MD, about coping with the end of active cancer treatment.

Sharing Your Story

About 12 million people in the United States have survived cancer, and each person has a story to share if he or she wishes to do so.

Coping With Fear of Recurrence

Learn more about coping with the fear of a cancer recurrence, including tips for facing fear and anxiety, expressing your feelings, staying well-informed, continuing regular follow-up care, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Sexuality After Gynecologic Surgery

Many women with cancer have surgery that affects their reproductive organs. Because of the connection of this area of the body to sexuality, many women experience feelings such as loss, sadness, or anxiety after gynecologic surgery. Some women may feel that they have lost their identity as women. Others may have concerns and questions regarding sexual intimacy and intercourse after surgery. It is important to remember that there are a number of strategies for coping with both the sexual and emotional side effects of gynecologic surgery.

Having a Baby After Cancer: Pregnancy

Learn about becoming pregnant after finishing cancer treatment, including recommended timelines for trying to become pregnant, potential effects of cancer treatment on labor and delivery, and coping with other physical and emotional concerns.

Recognizing and Celebrating Milestones

Many people mark milestones in their cancer treatment plan and survivorship in a variety of ways. For many people, the one-year and five-year cancer-free milestones are very meaningful. Other milestones and anniversary dates can be marked as well, such as the end of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the date of your cancer diagnosis, the anniversary of surgery to treat your cancer, or after each follow-up visit.

Going Back to Work After Cancer

After treatment for cancer, many people look forward to returning to the work. Working can provide opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and friends, focus on something other than cancer, get involved in interesting and challenging projects, and start regaining a normal routine and lifestyle. It is also a time of transition and questions may arise about how to talk with coworkers and employers about cancer and how to understand workplace rights and responsibilities. Some preparation before returning to work can help make this transition a little easier.

Finding a Job After Cancer

For some cancer survivors, looking for a new job or reentering the job market can be a challenging experience. However, unless you have physical or mental disabilities that limit the type of work you are planning to perform, your cancer history should not affect your ability to get a job. If you are qualified for a job, an employer cannot refuse to hire you simply because you have a history of cancer.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cancer

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that a person can develop after experiencing or seeing a life-threatening or extremely frightening event. Although PTSD is often associated with situations such as war, weather-related disasters, sexual or physical attacks, and serious accidents, such as a plane crash, the disorder can also affect people with a history of cancer.

Post-Traumatic Growth and Cancer

We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress, which is generally used to describe feelings of anxiety and fear following a frightening or life-threatening experience, such as receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment. However, such experiences can also cause a positive life change or a period of improvement. In fact, some studies suggest that reports of growth following a traumatic event are more common than reports of psychiatric disorders taking place from the experience.

Making a Difference

Many times people who have dealt with cancer firsthand want to support others with cancer. Whether you are a cancer survivor or a family member or friend of someone living with cancer, you have a lot of valuable experience that can help others facing cancer. Becoming a volunteer makes an important difference in someone else's life and often makes a positive difference in your own life. Being a volunteer offers different rewards for everyone. In fact, many volunteers say sharing their time makes them feel good, helps to build new friendships, and widens their network of support.

© 2005-2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.

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