A series of tests will be undertaken, some blood tests will verify a number of specific markers, which are different for various types of cancers, so you may see only one or two of them. Then, in most if not all cases, there will be a scan, probably a PET-scan in order to have a full picture of the situation after treatment.
PET is an acronym for Positron Emitting Tomography, where the scanner detects gamma-rays emitted by a positron-emoting tracer, a liquid which is injected into you before the procedure.
Furthermore, you are required to drink a large quantity of liquid, which contains a biologically active molecule, fludeoxyglucose (FDG), an analogue of glucose.
The concentrations of tracer imaged will indicate tissue metabolic activity as it corresponds to the regional glucose uptake. Use of this tracer to explore the possibility of cancer metastasis (i.e., spreading to other sites) is the most common type of PET scan in standard medical care (90% of current scans).
In short, if a region suddenly becomes active when additional glucose appears, it is probably a new tumour.
So, to sum it up, the favourable result of a PET-scan is to show that no suspicious activity appears when that glucose reaches the various parts of your body.
if all tests are good, then you don't have any visible existing cancer anymore in your body. If this is after a chemotherapy, chances are all cancer cells that may have been hiding or that migrated before surgery have been eliminated.
You will have follow-up tests every 6 months, then every year, until you reach the famous 5 years survival, after which you (or me) are considered fully free of cancer.
But what happens between the end of the treatment and the results of the PET-scan? How can you best prepare for the weeks and months after chemo?
This is a topic i will revisit in detail when the time comes for me, but i thought it would be useful to put some thoughts down, as a baseline.
First of all, the body needs to recover.
The chemicals need to be drained, the level of activity can gradually go up, which means starting light exercise if you had to stop, jogging, bicycle, yoga, swimming etc. will be very useful to help recover a better feeling of your body and your new possibilities.
Under strict medical control, in order not to go overboard.
Other activities that can be recommended after chemotherapy: spa, sauna and massage.
if you can stand it, and if you can afford it.
There's a number of specialised spas for post-cancer recuperation and rehabilitation, particularly around Karlovy Vary in Czech Republic (or Czechia as it's supposed to be called now), but a number of other spas will provide comfort and help get back to your former self, in Germany (Baden Baden), Bulgaria, or the Atlantic Ocean (Biarritz, Les Sables d'Olonne, Carnac...), the list is long and you should choose based on your budget and ability to travel.
One week is good, two weeks optimal to get your immune system back on track.
In any case, the better you are before thinking about the next step, the easier it is to get back to your usual levels, so as much as possible, you should start today already, with light exercise according to your capacities, eating healthy and varied food as much as possible, even when taste has largely disappeared from your taste buds, limit alcohol intake, laugh as much as possible etc.
So, tomorrow is being prepared today, tomorrow comes today: