Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Select An Article

    Treating Recurrent Breast Cancer

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    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

    11 Questions to Ask the Medical Oncologist

    Why are you recommending this therapy? What are the risks? Are there other ways to treat the cancer? Where do I go for chemotherapy or hormone therapy? Is chemotherapy given through the vein or as a pill, and will I need anti-nauseamedications? Will I be able to drive myself home after treatment, or do I need help? How long does the treatment last? What are the risks and side effects? Will my hair fall out? Will it grow back? What about premature menopause and infe...

    Read the 11 Questions to Ask the Medical Oncologist 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 mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article