Regular follow-up exams; including a pelvic exam, a Pap test, and other laboratory tests, are very important for any woman who has been treated for precancerous changes or for cancer of the cervix. The woman should have frequent tests and exams for several years so that the doctor can check for any signs that the condition has returned.
Cancer treatment can cause side effects many years later. For this reason, patients should continue to have regular checkups and should report any health problems that appear.
Living with a serious disease is not easy. Cancer patients and those who care about them face many problems and challenges. Coping with these problems is often easier when people have helpful information and support services. Several useful booklets, including the National Cancer Institute booklet, Taking Time, are available from the Cancer Information Service.
Cancer patients may worry about holding their job, caring for their family, or keeping up with daily activities. Worries about tests, treatments, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Also, meeting with a social worker, counselor, or a member of the clergy can be helpful to patients who want to talk about their feelings or discuss their concerns.
Friends and relatives can be very supportive. Also, it helps many patients to discuss their concerns with others who have cancer. Cancer patients often get together in support groups, where they can share what they have learned about coping with cancer and the effects of treatment. It is important to keep in mind, however, that each patient is different. Treatments and ways of dealing with cancer that work for one person may not be right for another, even if they both have the same kind of cancer. It is a good idea to discuss the advice of friends and family members with the doctor.
Often, a social worker at the hospital or clinic can suggest groups that can help with rehabilitation, emotional support, financial aid, transportation, or home care. For example, the American Cancer Society has many services for patients and their families. They also offer many free booklets, including one on sexuality and cancer. Local offices of the American Cancer Society are listed in the white pages of the telephone directory.