When cancer comes back after treatment, a recurrence occurs and this can happen in weeks, months, or even years after the primary or original cancer was treated. It is impossible for the doctor to know for sure if cancer recurs.
However, the chance of recurrence mostly depends on the type of primary cancer. Hence, on that basis, your doctor can provide you more information about your risk of having a recurrence.
Why and how cancer recurs?
It is quite interesting to understand how cancer recurs. Cancer mostly recurs because small areas of cancer cells can remain in the body after treatment. With time these cells may multiply and grow large enough. Cancer recurrence also depends on when and where cancer recurs and on the type of cancer.
According to reports, some cancers have an expected pattern of recurrence. Cancer may recur in the following ways:
- In the same part of the body as primary cancer, called a local recurrence
- Near where the primary cancer was located, called a regional recurrence
- In another part of the body, called a distant recurrence
Recurrent cancer is named for the location where primary cancer began, even if it recurs in another part of the body.
For example, if breast cancer recurs distantly in the liver, it is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Hence, doctors call it metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic means that cancer has spread to another part of the body.
“Whenever I get a cancer patient, the most common question that I come across is can my cancer be cured and can they lead a normal life after cancer treatment? said Dr. Subham Garg, Senior Surgical Oncologist, Fortis Hospital Noida.
Dr. Garg said, “A cancer surgery is quite different from other surgeries or the cancer treatment is different from other disease treatments. Cancer treatment is a long process. With recent times and development of technologies cancer treatment has become easier than before.”
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