How to Stay Healthy After Cancer Treatment Ends

Photo of Pam

Breast cancer survivor Pam makes her health a priority.

Take these steps to help stay healthy after your cancer treatment is finished.

If you have had cancer, you have a higher chance of getting cancer again than someone who has not had cancer. That’s why it’s very important for you to do things to stay healthy.

“For me, life after breast cancer means taking one day at a time and being mindful of the things I can do to stay as healthy as possible,” says Pam, who learned she had breast cancer in 2013.

“I have what I call a ‘new normal.’ That means a different attitude towards life. I do as much as I can by eating well, exercising, and keeping my stress levels down.

“Having cancer forced me to understand the importance of making my health a priority,” Pam says.

Get Your Checkups

“Take your symptoms seriously. Go to the doctor. Ask questions,” says cancer survivor Jenny Allen in this video.

When your treatment is finished, your doctor may tell you that you should get checkups or tests in the future. This is called follow-up care. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. These tests can help find early signs of a new or the same cancer.

A survivorship care plan includes important information about your cancer and treatment. If you have a survivorship care plan, bring it with you whenever you go to the doctor.

Pay attention to your body. If you feel something isn’t right, go to the doctor. “I kind of brushed it aside if I didn’t feel well,” says Jenny Allen. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and during her surgery, the doctor also found ovarian cancer. “Be brave. Ask questions. The odds are you don’t have cancer, but find out for sure.”

Make Healthy Choices

You can lower your risk of getting cancer again or having the cancer come back by making healthy choices.

  • Stay away from tobacco. Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body. If you smoke, try to quit,external icon and stay away from other people’s smoke.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. All alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer, cocktails, and liquor, are linked with some type of cancer. The more you drink, the higher your cancer risk.
  • Protect your skin from the sun, and avoid indoor tanning. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to skin cancer—the most common cancer in the United States.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity are linked with at least 13 kinds of cancer.
Photo of George

“I began my journey back to health by relying on my support network and positive attitude,” says three-time cancer survivor George.

Pay Attention to Your Mental and Emotional Health

George already survived two other kinds of cancer when his doctor gave him the shocking news that he had prostate cancer.

“I began my journey back to health by relying on my support network and positive attitude,” he says. “I have my dark days. Those are going to happen. But I’ve got to feel good, and with my support network, I am able to have a positive attitude.

“I also work at keeping a confident outlook on life by participating in cancer discussion groups with other survivors. Their stories encourage me,” George says.

Mental health care is as important as caring for your physical health during and after cancer treatment, says Dr. Natasha Buchanan Lunsford, a CDC scientist, in this blog post. She recommends that you talk to your health care providers about how you feel both physically and mentally.