Your doctor will want to see you after your treatment to see how you are. They may call this a follow up appointment.
This is an opportunity to tell them about any symptoms or treatment side effects. But if anything is troubling you between check-ups, do contact the hospital and ask for an earlier appointment.
How often you have these appointments varies. Your specialist will tell you how often they plan to see you, but do ask if you need more information.
It’s not unusual to find check-ups worrying. They bring all your experiences with diagnosis and treatment back again. Let those closest to you know about your fears. It’ll help to talk about it. And if you’d like to, ask someone to come with you. Most people are only too happy to do anything they can to help a friend or relative who’s not well. They may welcome a suggestion for something practical they can do to support you.
After surgery or ablation to remove HCC
If you’ve had a liver resection or treatment to destroy liver tumours (thermal ablation), you will see your surgeon around 6 weeks after finishing treatment and then every 3 months for the first year at least. This is to check for signs of the cancer coming back.
If you’ve had a liver transplant, you’ll see your transplant surgeon every week at first. Then your appointments will go down to fortnightly, then monthly. After that, if all’s well you can move to 3 monthly check-ups.
The timing of your check-ups will depend on the exact treatment you’ve had and how well you are. At each appointment, your doctor will examine you and ask how you’re feeling. You may have scans or blood tests from time to time.
Tests to monitor your health
HCC cells often produce a ‘marker’ that circulates in the blood. This is called AFP (alpha feto protein). It is a substance that healthy livers make, but with HCC, your blood level can be above normal. Your doctor can test for this. If the level in the blood rises, it could be an early sign of the cancer coming back. You will also have regular liver blood tests to monitor the health of your liver.
Your doctor may ask you to have a CT, MRI or ultrasound scan from time to time, to check for any signs that the cancer has come back. They may do this if you have a new symptom or if they want to check anything after any of your blood results.
What if I’m worried?
If you are worried about anything, contact your hospital. If you start to feel more unwell or have a new symptom that is concerning, you don’t have to wait till your next appointment, especially if it’s weeks or months away. Your medical team would rather know sooner than later. So try not to feel as if you’re bothering them.
Content last reviewed: October 2022
Next review date: October 2025