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 discuss 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. Sometimes he or she may recommend medication to treat your anxiety or depression.
Learn more about support groups and other types of support.
Plan for care
Medical history and physical exam
1-4 times a year (depending on your situation) for 5 years, then every year
Mammogram (for remaining breast tissue and/or opposite breast)
Women treated with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy
6-12 months after radiation therapy ends, then every year
Women treated with mastectomy
1 year after mammogram that led to diagnosis, then every year
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 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
Adapted from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Cancer Society and the 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.
Learn more about talking with your health care provider.
If you have questions or concerns about lymphedema, it may be helpful to download and print Susan G. Komen®'s Questions to Ask Your Doctor card on lymphedema. You can take it with you to your next doctor appointment. There’s plenty of space to write down the answers to these questions, which you can refer to later.
You can also download other Questions to Ask Your Doctor cards on many different breast cancer topics.
Metastasis (distant recurrence) is most often found when people report symptoms.
These may include:
Don't panic if you have symptoms like weight change or bone pain. These are common and most often don't mean the breast cancer has spread. For example, some women have arthritis and this pain is not related to breast cancer.
However, you should discuss any new or concerning 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 [3,9-10].
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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