Keep talking with your oncologist and surgeon. Schedule regular appointments. 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 specific diagnosis.
Nearly four out of every 10 Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine -- CAM -- to address a concern with their health. When megadose vitamins and healing prayer are included, the number jumps to more than six out of every 10. Is it possible that some form of CAM can be beneficial in the treatment of breast cancer? For example, what about acupuncture or tai chi? Can they add anything as a supplement to standard medical care?
Routine chest X-rays and blood tests in women who have no symptoms of cancer are not always reliable ways to check for the spread of breast cancer. But you will need regular blood tests if you had chemotherapy 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 the cancer was first treated.
Women taking tamoxifen should look for any changes in uterine bleeding. Women on this drug who still have their uterus require an annual Pap smear, regardless of age.
If you need to see a gynecologist, or your primary care doctor for routine physicals, coordinate it with your oncologist.
Take care of your emotional and physical well-being. Make this a priority in life.
Avoid the tendency to compare your treatment plan and outcome with other breast cancer patients. Every diagnosis is a little different.
If you are postmenopausal, if you are taking an aromatase inhibitor, or if you've had chemotherapy in the past, get regular screening tests for osteoporosis.
What to Watch for
Make sure you give yourself regular breast self-exams. Pay attention to symptoms including: