Once breast cancer treatment has ended, follow-up care is very important.
Maintain ongoing communication with your oncologist and surgeon. Schedule regular appointments. Typically, you should see them every three months for the first two years after treatment ends, every six months during years 3 through 5, and then annually for life. But your schedule will depend on your specific diagnosis.
You should also continue to have regular mammograms, even if a mastectomy was done.
Routine chest X-rays and blood tests in women who have no symptoms are not always reliable ways to check for the spread of breast cancer. They are not recommended.
Between medical visits, watch for any changes in your body. Most recurrences happen within five years of when the cancer was first treated.
Women taking tamoxifen should be aware of and report any changes in uterine bleeding. Women on this drug who also still have their uterus require an annual Pap smear, regardless of age.
Coordinate any additional visits to gynecologists or primary care physicians for routine physicals 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.
Make sure you give yourself regular breast self-exams after treatment. Watch for symptoms such as:
Radiation therapy typically involves using a large machine called a linear accelerator to deliver precise amounts of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. The radiation stops the reproduction of cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Radiation therapy has been shown to improve survival in women with breast cancer.
Print these Questions to Ask before your first appointment.
Radiation therapy for breast cancer can be used:
After lumpectomy or mastectomy, either alone...