Follow-Up Care After Breast Cancer Treatment

Once your breast cancer treatment has ended, you’ll need to keep in touch with your cancer doctor and surgeon. Schedule regular appointments with them.

Typically, you should see them every 3 months for the first 2 years after treatment ends, every 6 months during years 3 through 5, and then annually for the rest of your life. But your schedule will depend on your personal diagnosis.

Get regular mammograms. If you had a mastectomy, you only need one of the other breast.

Routine chest X-rays and blood tests in women who have no symptoms of cancer aren’t always reliable. If you had chemotherapy, you’ll need regular blood tests to make sure that your body has recovered from it.

Between medical visits, watch for any changes in your body. Most of the time, if cancer comes back, it's within 5 years of when it was first treated.

What to Watch for

Give yourself regular breast self-exams. Pay attention to any changes in your breast, including:

  • Skin rashes, redness, or swelling
  • New lumps in your breast or chest

Also pay attention to:

  • Bone pain, back pain, or tenderness that doesn't go away
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Persistent belly pain
  • Weight loss

If you take tamoxifen, tell your doctor about any unusual vaginal bleeding. If you take it and still have your uterus, you need an annual Pap smear, regardless of age.

If you are postmenopausal, if you are taking a medicine called an aromatase inhibitor, or if you've had chemotherapy in the past, get regular screening tests for osteoporosis.

Make taking care of your emotional and physical well-being a priority in life. Don't compare your treatment plan and outcome with others. Everyone's cancer is a little different.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on May 07, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society.

National Cancer Institute. 

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.