Cancer Survivor Tips

Learning how to take care of your physical and mental health after a cancer diagnosis is the key to living your life to the fullest. These steps from the National Cancer Institute can help cancer survivors do just that.

Understand your plan of care

Make sure your health care provider explains clearly what to expect: How often will you need to return for checkups? What tests will you need? What major issues can you expect to face in the next year or two, and how should you deal with them? If your oncologist recommends frequent checks for cancer recurrence, take the advice seriously.

Get screenings

Don't neglect other recommended cancer screenings. A woman successfully treated for melanoma should have regular mammograms, just like other women.

Manage your symptoms

Be proactive in dealing with any after-effects of radiation or chemotherapy.

Exercise regularly

Recent studies show a moderate exercise program can improve physical stamina and lift the psychological well-being of people who are feeling fatigued long after treatment has ended. Develop a plan for physical activity that works for you, based on your health care provider's advice.

Avoid tobacco

Staying smoke-free is one of the most important things you can do to stay cancer-free.

Improve your nutrition

Make sure you're eating a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Maintain your mental health

Signs that you may need help from a mental health professional include constantly worrying about your cancer returning or often feeling anxious or depressed. Consider calling a social worker, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Stay current with treatment developments

Visit reputable Web sites, including the NCI site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping. Or, visit the NCI's Cancer Information Service at http://cis.nci.nih.gov. Check out the American Cancer Society Web site at http://www.cancer.org and enter "Cancer Survivors Network" in the search function.

Seek support

Support groups for cancer survivors can be a great source of comfort when you suffer fear of recurrence, have questions about self-care, or just need some understanding.

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