Lung cancer, lung carcinoma – aftercare and rehabilitation
What happens with the Tumors?
When the medical treatment of the tumor disease is completed, the phase of the treatment called aftercare begins. The purpose of tumors is to:
- To recognize and deal with the emergence of cancer
- To treat and, if necessary, to relieve concomitant diseases
- To assist the patient in his physical, psychological and social problems.
If the tumor can be removed by the treatment, the doctors in the clinic will advise you to come in at certain times for follow-up examinations. In the first two years, follow-up examinations usually take place every three months, and every six months thereafter. Please remember the dates! The regular check ensures that timely measures can be taken against a new tumor formation, but also against possible accompanying and subsequent diseases.
After five years without relapse, controls are sufficient at longer intervals. How often the doctor wants to see his patient ultimately depends on the individual situation and the course of the illness. The physician also takes into account the respective risk of relapse, which is essentially dependent on the type of lung cancer at which the patient was ill. In the case of small-cell lung carcinoma with a higher probability of relapse, the follow-up appointments may therefore occur at shorter intervals. The most important follow-up examinations include:
- The thorough and comprehensive physical examination
- blood tests
- Radiographs of the chest
Depending on the initial situation, further examinations such as bronchoscopy, ultrasound examination of abdominal or computed tomography may be appropriate. The search for distant metastases plays a special role in follow-up examinations. In doing so, the lung, the liver, the brain, the bones and the adrenal glands must be examined with special procedures. These examinations are not carried out routinely, but as a rule only in the case of corresponding complaints. Adherence to the follow-up appointments is therefore particularly important in order to give the physician information on which diagnostic methods are to be used based on possible symptoms such as pain or swelling.
Aftercare – more than just medicine
However, the follow-up is not only about medical examinations, but also about the after-care of the patient. Most people are physically and mentally stressed after a cancer treatment. Post-care will help to treat the disease and deal with the various problems associated with tumor disease.
Already in the clinic there is the possibility to contact your treating physician or special specialists with questions and problems. Do not be afraid to do this! In addition to the actual therapy, it is one of the tasks of a treating physician to accompany the patient and to solve problems together with him. In most hospitals, a social service is provided to assist you with health care and social issues, as well as to transfer them to appropriate institutions.
Also the possibility of psychological counseling is given in many hospitals. For some patients, it is also helpful to get support from a counseling center over a period of time. Contact with people who are also affected, for example in a self-help group , can also be a great help since these people know the problems from their own experience and can help with advice and action.
Rehabilitation – bridge into everyday life
Frequently after the discharge from the hospital a follow-up treatment or a cure is recommended, in order to accelerate the recovery and recovery process. There are specially equipped after-care clinics in which you can regain strength and in which your situation is specifically addressed. Every lung cancer patient who has been treated is entitled to a rehabilitation. It does not matter whether he has been operated on or has been given a combined radiotherapy / chemotherapy, for example. A rehabilitation can also be useful in case of a disease relapse.
When a rehabilitation (or follow-up treatment) is performed, may vary from patient to patient. Some come directly after the operation to the rehabilitation clinic, others only after the complete therapy . However, subsequent treatment after the surgical procedure can also be performed during the stay in the rehabilitation clinic (eg chemotherapy).
The rehabilitation, which usually takes about three weeks, represents a bridge into the previously accustomed life. Within the scope of the interview, the doctor and the patient jointly determine which goals are to be achieved. These depend very much on the individual illness and life situation and on the wishes of the patient. Some aspire to return to work, while others may want to recapture the skills needed to practice a particular hobby. Also the psychological support in the processing of illness plays an important role. On this basis, an individual therapy program is created, which is based on four aspects: physical, medical, psychological and rehabilitation-oriented support.
A key component of this catalog is the increase in physical performance. Many patients have problems with breathing after the removal of a lung wing or parts of the lung and are generally only slightly resilient. In order to strengthen the cardiovascular system, they receive a specially adapted breath and persistence training.
During the rehabilitation phase, patients are also given medical attention. This includes the pain treatment after surgery, help with side effects of the therapy (eg nerve disturbances at fingertips and feet by chemotherapy) or the re-adjustment of medication. Also the unintended loss of weight, which can be very pronounced in lung cancer patients, is counteracted in the rehabilitation by suitable methods.
Psychological support includes relaxation procedures such as progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training and individual interviews with psychologists. Here, problems of illness processing, fear of a relapse, but also the domestic situation of the patients are discussed. This offer is also aimed at relatives who can accompany the patient during rehabilitation. Another important concern of rehabilitation is to provide help for self-help. In lectures, seminars, consultations and visits, patients receive important information on smoking cessation or the influence of a healthy diet. They will also be informed about the examinations they are making during the follow-up care.