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Breast Cancer: Post Treatment: 6 Months Plus: Medical Care

Get And Comply With A Breast Cancer Follow-up Plan. Share It With All Your Doctors.

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A cancer follow-up plan describes your diagnosis and treatment. It also tells you and your non-cancer doctors signs to look for that could be a long term result of your treatment or a return of your breast cancer, and when to do which follow-up exams. 

It is recommended that every cancer survivor have a cancer follow-up plan. For example, it is generally recommended that women who have had breast cancer:

  • See their surgeon or medical oncologist for an examination and to discuss potential signs of recurrence:
    • Every three to six months for the first three years after breast cancer treatment
    • Every 6 to 12 months in the fourth and fifth years after treatment
    • Once a year after five years.
  • Continue to conduct breast self-exams monthly
  • Undergo a yearly mammogram and pelvic exam
  • Be screened for other cancers

Some of the signs to watch for are: a persistent cough, changes in the chest wall or breast, weight loss, swelling or other changes in the lymph nodes, heart or lung symptoms, vaginal bleeding, or muskoskeletal pain.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, routine radiologic studies (such as bone scanning and chest radiography) and laboratory tests (such as complete blood counts and liver function tests) are not recommended for women who do not have symptoms of a recurrence.

If you do not have one, get a cancer follow up plan from your cancer doctor or from a nearby Survivor clinic at an NCI certified cancer center. You can locate an NCI certified cancer center at: Your insurance is likely to cover these services.

Ask your cancer doctor when to call if any of the symptoms you have been warned about appear, or if other symptoms show up.

  • Do not be surprised if the doctor uses a two week rule in some instances: if a symptom continues for two weeks, call. 
  • If a symptom interferes with your daily life, call right away.

NOTE: Report all unanticipated changes in your health to primary care physician as well as to your oncologist. The symptoms could relate to your breast cancer, or to something else entirely.  An update by fax or email will do.   

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