Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for stomach cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists like oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists and the patient’s family doctor. The healthcare team will work with the patient to decide on follow-up care that suits individual needs.
It is important to report any unusual symptoms as soon as one experiences any of the following symptoms of stomach cancer:
- pain or an increase in pain
- problems eating or swallowing
- swelling of the abdomen
- weight loss
The chance of stomach cancer coming back (recurring) is greatest within 2 years, so close follow-up is needed during this time.
Follow-up visits for stomach cancer are usually scheduled:
- 3 months after the initial treatment
- every 3–6 months for the first 2 years
- every 6–12 months for the next 3 years
- every year after that
During follow-up visits
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 how well you’re eating if you have had surgery to remove your stomach. You’ll also likely meet with a nutritionist.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including an exam of the abdomen.
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- endoscopy to check if stomach cancer has come back
- vitamin B12 levels checked to see if you need B12 injections if you’ve had all or part of your stomach removed and the stomach can no longer absorb vitamin B12
- blood tests, including a complete blood count and blood chemistry tests
- imaging tests such as CT scans or x-rays
If a recurrence is found, the healthcare team will examine the patient to determine the best treatment options.