Outcomes and monitoring your cancer

It is important to review and have follow-up care after your treatment.

This is to make sure any return, known as recurrence, of cancer is detected early. After treatment some cancer cells may remain undetected in the body. 

How often you need to visit your specialist and/or general practitioner (GP) will depend on the type of cancer and your treatment plan.

You may have to have regular follow-up checks from three to 12 months, depending on the type and aggressiveness of the cancer.

Your follow-up visits will become less frequent over time unless there are signs your cancer has returned.

Cancer outcomes

The most desirable outcome of cancer treatment is complete remission. 

However, in some cases complete remission does not happen and plans for further treatment or palliative care must be made. 


Your cancer treatment may lead to either partial or complete remission.

If you are in partial remission, some but not all of your signs and symptoms will have either lessened or disappeared.

Cancer may still be present in your body, even if you are in remission.

If you are in complete remission there are no signs and symptoms of cancer for a period of five years or longer following treatment.


In some cases cancer can return after a period of improvement or remission. 

This can happen at any time, from a few weeks to several years after your treatment is completed. 

The cancer may recur at the primary cancer site or in another part of the body. 

If this happens, your doctor will do tests and once again discuss all treatment options with you. 

In some cases, recurrent episodes of cancer can be effectively controlled with treatment for long periods of time.

Advanced cancer

Advanced cancer is a term commonly used to describe primary cancer or metastatic/secondary cancer that is unlikely to be cured. 

For more information go to about cancer and your cancer journey.

Last updated: 12 May 2016

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