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.
Breast reconstruction can be done right after a mastectomy while you are still under anesthesia, or at a later time. Sometimes women wait because they are not emotionally or medically able to undergo additional surgery, or because they need radiation therapy following their breast cancer and mastectomy. Reconstruction is major surgery that may require more than one procedure. Women should be fully informed about what is involved.
Women have several options in breast reconstruction surgery, including...
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: