Follow-Up Care Is Important For Breast Cancer Survivors

For breast cancer survivors, seeing your doctor for follow-up care is important. Whether it is every three, six, or twelve months, your doctor’s visit will help maintain your health in more ways than just one.

Why is follow-up care important?

After breast cancer treatment(s), visiting your doctor for follow-up care is important to maintain good health. Your doctor is able to utilize these appointments to identify changes in your health. They are able to manage any side effects you are dealing with after treatment. They can watch for signs that the cancer has come back or screen for other types of cancer. Often included in these follow-up appointments are physical examinations and other medical tests to monitor your recovery.

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What should patients tell their doctor during this appointment?

It is crucial to communicate with your doctor about any health concerns. During each visit, talk to your doctor about:

  • Any symptoms you think may be a sign that cancer has returned
  • If you are experiencing any pain
  • Medications, herbs, and vitamins you may be on
  • Physical changes, such as fatigue, memory changes, weight loss or gain, and difficulty with bowel movements
  • Your emotional well-being, such as experiencing depression or anxiety
  • Any changes to your family medical history

What are some signs of a breast cancer recurrence?

It is important to understand that cancer recurrences are not always detected during your follow-up appointments. Many women will detect recurrences themselves between their scheduled check-ups. Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A lump
  • A rash or skin changes
  • Pain in the breast, chest wall, or arm pits
  • Changes in the shape or size of your breast
  • Bone pain
  • Changes in vision
  • A decreased energy level
  • A poor appetite
  • Headaches

What tests might the doctor run?

Doctors may use various tests to learn more about your physical health and well-being. Some of these tests are not necessarily designed to detect cancer, but can assist the doctor in learning about your medical symptoms and side effects you are experiencing.

  • A complete blood count test
  • Mammography
  • Bone scan
  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • Liver and kidney function tests

Next, learn what tests the doctor may run and learn more questions you can ask.

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