Breast Cancer Home > Breast Cancer Follow-Up

It is important to receive proper follow-up care after breast cancer treatment, because sometimes, undetected cancer cells remain elsewhere in the body, and also because you are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer again. Your follow-up care will likely consist of regular visits to the doctor. Support groups can also play a role.

Breast Cancer Follow-Up Care: An Overview

After treatment for breast cancer, good follow-up care is important. Recovery is different for each woman. Your recovery depends on your treatment, whether the disease has spread, and other factors.

Follow-Up Visits After Breast Cancer Treatment

After your breast cancer treatment is completed, you will need to have regularly scheduled follow-up care.
Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remain somewhere in the body after treatment. Also, because you have had breast cancer in one breast, you are at increased risk of developing breast cancer again. Your doctor will monitor your recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer.
You should report any changes in the treated area or in your other breast to the doctor right away. Tell your doctor about any health problems, such as:
  • Pain
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or hoarseness
  • Backaches
  • Digestive problems that seem unusual or that don't go away.
Such problems may arise months, or even years, after treatment for breast cancer. They may suggest that the cancer has returned, but they can also be symptoms of other health problems. It is important to share your concerns with your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Breast cancer follow-up exams usually include the breasts, chest, neck, and underarm areas. Since you are at risk of getting cancer again, you should have mammograms of your preserved breast and your other breast. You probably will not need a mammogram of a reconstructed breast or if you had a mastectomy without reconstruction. Your doctor may order other imaging procedures or lab tests.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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