Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

Treating Recurrent Breast Cancer

    Font Size

    Being at "high" risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer is different than being at high risk for a recurrence of breast cancer.

    Research shows breast cancer is more likely to come back after treatment in women who had:

    Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

    Christina Applegate Seeks Early Detection for Breast Cancer

    Cancer didn't catch Christina Applegate unprepared. Because her mother had battled both breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Applegate had been going for regular mammograms since the age of 30. "But when I turned 36, my doctor said that my breasts were just too dense for mammography alone, and he referred me for screening MRIs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center," she recalls. Just a few months before she learned she herself had breast cancer, the actor got a shocking insight into the struggles faced...

    Read the Christina Applegate Seeks Early Detection for Breast Cancer article > >

    Breast cancer can recur or come back in three ways:

    • The cancer can return at the original site. This is called a local recurrence.
    • The cancer can recur nearby, such as in the chest. This is called a regional recurrence.
    • The cancer can spread to a distant location in the body, such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, or lungs. This is called a distant recurrence, or a metastasis.

    Your doctor will order more tests to see if the breast cancer has spread, beginning with a physical exam and often a biopsy. The doctor is checking to see if cancer is present and, if so, if it is a recurrence of the same type of cancer or a completely new cancer (which is called a second primary cancer.)

    If it is a recurrence, additional tests may include a bone scan, X-rays including CT scan, an MRI, blood tests, and PET scan.

    Treatment will depend on whether the recurrence is local, regional, or distant.

    • Local recurrence can be treated with a mastectomy if a lumpectomy was originally performed or radiation if a mastectomy has been performed.
    • Regional breast recurrence is rare. Treatment may include a combination of surgery, medication, and radiation.
    • Treating a distant recurrence of breast cancer that has spread (called metastastic) can include:

    Before you begin treatment for breast cancer recurrence, print out these Questions to Ask your specialists so you can better understand your care.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
    woman having mammogram
    Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    serious woman
    what is your cancer risk
    10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow