Harvard Women's Health Watch

Surviving cancer-what happens next?

Learning you're cancer-free is only the first step in a lifelong process.

If you've lived through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, you've spent months—or possibly years—worrying about your disease. You've done everything you had to do—traveling to one doctor's appointment after another, undergoing scans and biopsies, and putting your body through the rigors of surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatment regimens.

Then, your doctor finally gave you the news you'd been waiting for: "You're cancer-free." Your first instinct might have been to celebrate your survival and then wash your hands of the whole ordeal and move on. But for many women, a positive prognosis is just a transition from constant surveillance to self-reliance. Instead of fearing that your cancer will progress, your worry becomes—will it return?

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