Disease recurrence and survival are two critical measures of prognosis (how a patient will do after a cancer diagnosis). Recurrence refers to whether the cancer ever comes back and survival rate refers to the chance of death from the cancer.
Knowing a patient’s prognosis will help their medical team select the best treatment plan to minimize risk of recurrence and detrimental side effects. This information is also very helpful to determine how closely a patient needs to be followed for recurrence. For example, for patients who have not had a cancer recurrence, the risk is far lower in the fourth year after diagnosis as compared to the first year after diagnosis. Therefore, doctor visits, scans, and blood tests can be carried out less frequently when risk is lower.