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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > After Treatment > Medical Care After Treatment


Medical Care After Treatment



Follow Up 
Fact Sheet

All breast cancer survivors should see their health care providers on a regular basis. The goals of these follow-up visits are to:

  • Find any breast cancer that has returned to the breast, chest or nearby lymph nodes (recurrence).
  • Find any breast cancer that has returned and spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).
  • Discuss behaviors that may lower your risk of recurrence
  • Manage any problems you are having taking medications (such as hormone therapy).
  • Find and manage any side effects related to treatment (such as menopausal symptoms).
  • Provide other routine health screenings (such as screening for colon and skin cancers, bone density tests and for women, pelvic exams and Pap smears).
  • Provide ongoing primary care (monitoring your general health, such as checking your blood pressure and cholesterol).
  • Provide medical updates that might change your follow-up care.
  • Provide emotional support.
  • Give you a time to ask questions and share concerns.

Recommended medical care after treatment for breast cancer

Follow-up care after breast cancer treatment (see Figure 6.1) includes [20]:

  • Physical exams
  • Mammograms
  • Bone health tests
  • Pelvic exams (for women)

During follow-up visits, your health care provider will ask you about any symptoms or concerns you are having.

These visits are a good time to talk about how you’re coping emotionally. Your provider can also refer you to a support group or counselor.   

Figure 6.1: Recommended medical care after treatment for breast cancer   



Plan for care 

Medical history and physical exam  

All survivors

Every three to six months for the first three years, every six to 12 months for years four and five, then every 12 months. 

Mammogram (for remaining breast tissue and/or opposite breast)  

Women treated with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy

One year after diagnostic mammogram, six months after radiation therapy ends, then every 12 months. 

Women treated with mastectomy  

Every 12 months.

Pelvic exam and Pap smear 

Women on tamoxifen who have not had their uterus removed (have not had a hysterectomy)

Every 12 months.

Bone health exams 

Women at higher risk of osteoporosis due to risk factors including:

  • Aromatase inhibitor use
  • Early menopause due to treatment
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Age 60 to 64 years with family history of osteoporosis or with low body weight

Bone mineral density tests every one to two years, depending on a person’s risk factors.


Women at lower risk of osteoporosis

Office visit to check osteoporosis risk, every 12 months.

Adapted from National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) materials [20-21,167].   

Updated 06/10/14


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