Recurrence is when the cancer comes back after initial treatment is over. Recurrence can happen near where the cancer developed the first time or in other parts of the body.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a tumor is a recurrence of the first cancer or an entirely new cancer. It’s important to figure this out, because treatment for recurrent cancer is the same as treatment for advanced disease – no matter what part of the body the cancer is in. If it’s a new cancer, the treatment will depend on where in the body it started and what type of cancer it is.
If results from your regular screening tests show that you might have a recurrence or a new cancer, your doctor will order a biopsy (a part of the tissue removed from the tumor and checked to see if it’s cancerous) and you will get a series of tests to figure out what’s going on.