If a cancer recurs, this can be a confusing subject. It means that cancer was first treated and then some days, months, or years later, it comes back. The doctor usually tells the patient the cancer has been detected again, or it came back and that can be confusing, because how can that happen? It was already treated, either by surgical removal, radiation or chemotherapy. Cancer coming back is probably the wrong phrase to use, to define a recurrence. When there's a recurrence, microscopic traces of that original cancer were always present somewhere, lurking, unbeknownst to you and your physicians. And then over time, those traces of cancer grew enough to divide, get bigger, until they're big enough to be detected again. So if a patient is cured from their cancer completely after the first treatment and it never comes back, that means there were never any additional traces. When it recurs, there were extra sites of cancer that were lurking the whole time.
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