Once your breast cancer treatment ends, most of the side effects of treatment go away. However, you may have some long-term side effects or other health effects that can occur months or even years after treatment ends. These late effects of treatment vary from person to person, so what you go through may be different from other breast cancer survivors. This can make it hard to plan for or cope with these effects. Talk to your health care provider about any health issues you have. Although some conditions, such as early menopause cannot be reversed, the symptoms can be treated.
Some common late effects of breast cancer include:
Some conditions are related to specific treatments.
Late effects of radiation therapy
Late effects of radiation therapy include:
Late effects of chemotherapy
Late effects of chemotherapy include:
Late effects of hormone therapy
Hormone therapy with tamoxifen and/or aromatase inhibitors is usually taken for five years. This is different from other treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which are completed after a number of weeks or months. Because hormone therapy is taken for a longer period of time than other treatments, possible side effects and health risks from these medications may also last longer.
Quality of life after treatment
“Quality of life” is the term used to describe a person's overall well-being, including his/her mental and physical health, ability to perform daily roles and sexual function, as well as an absence of symptoms such as pain and fatigue.
Research is ongoing to improve all areas of breast cancer care, including health concerns after treatment. After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider, we encourage you to consider joining a clinical trial.
BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service that can help you find a clinical trial that fits your health needs. Learn more about this program or search BreastCancerTrials.org for clinical trials on quality of life issues.
Learn more about clinical trials.