For patients who have cancer, the word remission means everything. Remission is a significant milestone in the journey that is the fight against cancer, and can resemble a beacon of hope for those who are suffering. Remission is more complicated than simply being done with treatment, and plays a major role in your long-term health. There are two types of remission:
Partial remission occurs when the cancer is still present but the tumor has decreased in size or, in cancers like leukemia, the amount of cancer cells remaining in your body is significantly lower. Partial remission is often described as a “chronic” condition that needs to be closely monitored. This also means you may be able to take some time off from treatment, as long as the cancer doesn’t increase in size once again.
Complete remission means that every test, physical exam, and scan no longer detect any signs of cancer in your system. This is also called “no evidence of disease,” or NED. You will no longer require treatment. However, complete remission does not mean that you are cured of your cancer.
What is ”recurrence?”
Some cancer cells can remain in the body undetected for many years after treatment. If a cancer returns after it has been in remission, it’s called a “recurrence.” Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether or not you will have a recurrence.
Coping during remission
Cancer treatment is often life altering, and once you’re in remission, it may take some adjusting to get back into your normal routine. There is always a fear of recurrence for cancer survivors, so it’s crucial to find ways to maintain your health and cope. Some things you can do:
- Take good care of yourself – If you haven’t already done so, try to adopt a healthy lifestyle, especially after remission. Consume a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly within your means, and get plenty of sleep.
- Attend your follow-up appointments – Though follow-up appointments can seem intimidating, don’t let that stop you from going. Use this time to keep an open line of communication with your doctor and address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the next steps in your journey.
- Monitor with follow-up tests – Follow-up tests are key in monitoring your cancer and remission. Your doctor will work with you to develop an after-care plan and recommend what follow-up testing you may require.
- Talk about it – Expressing your concerns or fears is healthy and beneficial during remission as well as during cancer treatment. You can discuss these things with your friends, family, doctor, pastor, or a support group.
- Stay involved – Staying active in hobbies and activities that you love is crucial to maintaining your well-being during this time, and it can help keep your mind off any fears you may be experiencing.
For more information on cancer remission, call the oncologists at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center today at (888) 774-0309 to schedule an appointment.