All breast cancer survivors should see their health care providers on a regular basis.
The goals of follow-up visits are to:
Follow-up care after breast cancer treatment (see Figure 6.1) includes [3-4]:
During follow-up visits, your health care provider will ask you about any symptoms or concerns you may have.
These visits are a good time to talk about how you’re coping emotionally.
If you feel anxious or depressed, tell your provider. Your provider may refer you to a support group, counselor or other resources and may sometimes recommend medication.
Learn more about support.
Figure 6.1: Recommended medical care after breast cancer treatment
Plan for care
Medical history and physical exam
1-4 times a year (depending on your situation) for 5 years, then every 12 months
Mammogram (for remaining breast tissue and/or opposite breast)
Women treated with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy
6 months after radiation therapy ends, then every 12 months
Women treated with mastectomy
One year after mammogram that led to diagnosis, then every 12 months
Pap smear (Pap test)
Women ages 21-29 who have not had their uterus removed (have not had a hysterectomy)
Every 3 years
Women ages 30-65 who have not had their uterus removed (have not had a hysterectomy)
If also getting an HPV test, every 5 years (preferred)
If Pap smear alone, every 3 years
Women ages 66 and older who have not had their uterus removed (have not had a hysterectomy)
Talk with your health care provider about whether you need to continue Pap smears
Bone health exams
Women at higher risk of osteoporosis due to risk factors including:
Bone mineral density tests every 1-2 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), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists materials [3-7].
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends breast cancer survivors get the seasonal flu shot.
People currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and long-term survivors:
If you have had chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other breast cancer treatments in the past month, call your health care provider right away if you have any flu symptoms.
Find more information from the CDC about the seasonal flu.
Metastasis (distant recurrence) is most often found when people report symptoms. These may include:
Do not panic if you have symptoms like weight change or bone pain. These are common and most often do not mean the breast cancer has spread.
However, you should discuss any symptoms with your health care provider.
Based on your symptoms, tests may be done to see if the breast cancer has returned and spread to other organs (metastasized).
Depending on the symptoms, follow-up tests may include:
Other tests may also be done.
For people with no symptoms of metastases, blood and imaging tests (other than mammography) are not a standard part of follow-up care. Using blood or imaging tests to check for early metastases in people with no symptoms of metastases does not increase survival [8-9].
Learn about the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Learn about treatment for local breast cancer recurrence.
Learn about metastatic breast cancer.
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