Follow-up care

For cancers of unknown primary, in addition to making sure the cancer does not return in the lymph nodes, your doctor will also check whether the primary cancer has appeared. This will include a physical exam and checking your nose and throat using a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera (nasendoscopy).

Some people may also need imaging studies such as CT, MRI or PET scans during follow-up. It is important to keep up with follow-up to ensure that if the cancer comes back, it may be caught as early as possible and can be treated. If you have any concerns between visits you should contact your doctor or cancer care team.

Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, in patients who do so, can help reduce the risk of a new head and neck cancer occurring. Ask your cancer care team for advice if this applies to you.

Mental health for people with cancer 

Sometimes this is referred to as psychosocial aspects or survivorship.

Being diagnosed with cancer and having treatment can lead to extra worries or concerns for you and the people caring for you.

​Depending on the treatment, you may experience any of the following: low mood or depression anxiety disfigurement difficulties with eating difficulties with speaking changes in sexual activity.

You may have got through the diagnosis and treatment for head and neck cancer, but you may be finding it difficult to deal with some of the side effects of treatment. Speak with you doctor about any difficulties you may be experiencing. Your doctor may give you a referral to a psychologist or another healthcare professional who can help you.

Speak with your family and friends too about any concerns you may have. You may find it helps to join a patient support group and speak with others who are having treatment for head and neck cancer. You can also find help and advice in online self-help resources such as beyondblue

Further information about coping with cancer is available here.