Recurrence is one of the most frequently identified fears of patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. It may mean the return of the cancer to the same region or that it has traveled to a different site or organ, known as metastasis. The Moffitt team regularly monitors patients for recurrence, through use of radiology tests such as CT scans, MRIs, mammograms and bone scans. Other cancers may be followed through the use of tumor markers (blood tests marking elevations if a cancer returns), bone marrow biopsies and routine blood work.
Most cancers recur in the first two to three years, although some can return years later. Patients can work with social workers on staff and attend support group meetings to talk with others facing similar recurrence fears. The use of special Integrative Medicine Program services, such as yoga, massage, tai chi and acupuncture, can also help alleviate stress.