Cancer recurrence is defined as a cancer returning to the body once a patient is declared cancer free as a result of treatment. Recurrence may indicate presence of cancer in the same location, or in another location within the body, and it can occur at any point from months to years after the initial elimination of the cancer’s presence.
A high percentage of cancer patients will experience recurrence after their initial treatment, quite unfortunately. Recurrence occurs when cancerous cells present in the original tumor spread to the body through blood or the lymph nodes. Once these cells begin to multiply within the patient, a new growth occurs. Generally, oncologists are unable to detect these rogue cells until they begin to form a new growth at some point following initial treatment.
Fortunately, this does not happen in all patients. There is no way to predict who will suffer a recurrence, and the patient can just do their best to avoid a recurrence.
The more time that elapses from the initial removal of a cancer within the body, the lower the chance that a patient will experience recurrence. Researchers spend huge amounts of time and research dollars attempting to determine what causes inactive cancer cells to begin to grow, however until those triggers are discovered there is always a chance of recurring cancer infection in patients once declared cancer-free.
If a patient experiences recurrence, generally the medical team will recommend the same treatment as used the first time. However, depending on the new cancer and the location and rate of spreading there may be alternative treatment procedures recommended. The patient’s overall health may impact treatment options, and this it is recommended that cancer patients do their best to remain healthy and in good physical condition following their initial treatment regimen. Often, more aggressive treatment will be suggested for recurrence cases.
In some patients, the odds of successful treatment are exactly the same as the first time. However, there are unfortunately cases where recurrence is deadly.
Because there is no way to know when or where a recurrence might appear in a patient, it is vital that cancer patients keep their appointments and stay in good health following any cancer treatments.