Vigilant surveillance must continue for several years after colorectal cancer therapy. Early detection of recurrent or metastasized cancer yields the best possibility for cure or containment of the cancer. For these reasons, patients at Johns Hopkins come for follow-up every three to size months for the first three years and then every six to 12 months for two years afterwards.
Your doctors at Johns Hopkins will design a follow-up care program for your individual situation. It is crucially important to keep these appointments and maintain the follow-up care plan that your doctor recommends. Your doctors will monitor your recovery progress to look for signs of cancer recurrence and check on any after effects of treatment. As you meet with your doctors for follow-up surveillance this presents a great opportunity to discuss your condition and prognosis with your medical team and to consider lifestyle and other changes to optimize recovery and good health.
The usual program for follow-up begins a few weeks after treatment ends. Your specific follow-up schedule and recommended tests depend on your individual situation. Your medical team at Hopkins works together to customize your surveillance schedule for your specific needs.
A typical surveillance program for Stage II colorectal cancer includes:
- Blood test, including tests for cancer markers, such as CEA, every three months for the first two years and then every six months for the next three years.
- Colonoscopy after one year, then every one to three years thereafter depending on the findings.
- Patients treated for rectal cancer may also have digital rectal examinations, proctoscopies, or sigmoidoscopies in addition to the colonoscopy. The frequency of these tests depends on the findings and the individual details of the patient.