When your doctor tells you that your cancer, or that of a loved one, is in remission, that means that all tests, scans, and exams that have been performed indicate that the observable signs of cancer are gone. Physicians will sometimes use the phrase “no evidence of disease” or the acronym NED. However, it’s impossible for any test to determine that every last cancer cell is gone, so patients who’ve had the disease but are in remission for cancer should be hopeful but vigilant.
Types of Cancer Remission
The phrase “cancer remission” is encouraging news for patients and their families. But it’s important to know that there are three different types of cancer remission:
● Complete remission. This means that there is no evidence of cancer in the body.
● Partial remission. This is when there has been a 50% or greater reduction in tumor size or cancer cells.
● Spontaneous remission. This term describes a situation in which cancer goes into remission that isn’t caused by therapy. It’s rare and typically occurs after the patient has had a fever or infection.
How Do You Know If You’re in Remission from Cancer?
In order to determine if you’re in remission after cancer treatment, your doctor performs certain tests. These include blood tests and imaging tests or a biopsy, depending on the type of cancer. If there’s no sign of the disease, you’re considered a cancer patient in remission.
Cancer patients will often ask, “How likely is it for cancer to return?” and “Does cancer ever go away completely?”. Many factors affect your chances of remaining in remission. Your doctor can discuss these factors, and also what are called survival rates if you want to have that conversation. However, not everyone is interested in this information.
Cancer Free vs. Remission
When are you considered cancer-free? Some doctors feel that if you’re in remission for five years or more, you’re cancer-free or cured. That’s certainly the hope. However, cancer cells can stay in your body for many years after treatment, so you should see your doctor regularly and report any suspicious symptoms right away. It’s also important to keep in mind that if your cancer does return, there may be other ways to treat it successfully.
Learn More About Cancer Remission from Baptist Health’s Blog
Keep learning about the facts of cancer and remission with Baptist Health’s blog. If you’re looking for treatment or more information about your cancer care, please contact an oncology provider with Baptist Health today.