When you’re treated for cancer, the goal, usually, if it’s an early cancer, is to eradicate the cancer. There is sometimes a thing called recurrence. That means the cancer comes back.
In some situations, it’s still possible to completely eradicate a cancer that has come back. For example, if a breast cancer is treated and removed, and it comes back in the same location, it may be possible to remove that again, and completely fix the problem.
In other situations, when a cancer comes back, and actually spreads to another part of the body, it may be much more difficult to completely get rid of it. It may be possible to slowly treat it, and try and prolong life.
The best way of understanding what can be done is to talk to your doctor about what the treatment opportunities are, and ensure that there’s a thorough exploration of every possibility.
Professor Michael Boyer is Medical Oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse