May 28, 2024

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What should Breast cancer patients do after the treatment is over? 

What should Breast cancer patients do after the treatment is over? 

What should Breast cancer patients do after the treatment is over?   The treatment is over, and a staged victory is achieved, but you must not take it lightly.

Many breast cancer patients will face such problems and confusion after surgery, such as “How often do I have to review”, “what items to review”, and “what items have problems that need attention”.

Indeed, for cancer patients, treatment is very important, but rehabilitation and follow-up cannot be ignored either. Today, we are here to help breast cancer patients sort out those things for postoperative review.

Review frequency

In the first three years after the patient completes the initial treatment, if no signs of recurrence or metastasis are found, the patient will be reviewed every 3-6 months. After 3 years, patients only need to review once every 6-12 months until the end of 5 years. After 5 years, check once a year.

For women undergoing breast-conserving surgery, it is recommended to have a breast examination every 6 months; if the patient has cancer in situ, there is no need for frequent follow-up examinations, generally twice a year for the first 5 years after treatment, and once a year thereafter.


Review content

The content of the review is to ask about the medical history, including the recent overall health status, whether there is any changes in the body, the recent incidence of tumors in the family, and the physical conditions such as diet, exercise, and various side effects.

After the doctor fully understands the patient’s medical history, the next step is usually a physical examination. During the physical examination, the doctor will check for signs of tumor recurrence, including the lymph nodes near the original site of breast cancer (including the incision site, remaining breast tissue, and chest wall), the contralateral breast, armpits, clavicle, and neck area. Sometimes it also includes whether there are abnormal breathing sounds in both lungs, whether the liver is swollen, whether the bones are tender, etc.

If the patient is taking tamoxifen and has not had a hysterectomy, the doctor may recommend an annual gynecological examination including pelvic ultrasound and gynecological examination, because tamoxifen may make the patient’s risk of endometrial cancer slight rise.



Auxiliary inspection methods

Routine examination methods for breast cancer patients include:

1. B-ultrasound

Generally, the frequency of ultrasound review can be controlled once every 3-6 months. With the extension of time, the interval of review can be appropriately extended. In some countries, breast B-ultrasound is widely used, and most breast masses and recurrences can be found or confirmed in B-ultrasound.

2. Breast mammography examination

All breast cancer patients should undergo mammography screening annually, except for those who have undergone bilateral mastectomy. Mammography can detect recurrent tumors in the affected breast or new tumors in the other breast. If the patient has undergone breast-conserving surgery, a mammogram examination must be performed 6 months after the completion of chemotherapy, and thereafter once a year for 10 years. If the patient undergoes unilateral total breast resection, the contralateral breast needs to be examined annually such as mammography. Patients with bilateral mastectomy do not require mammography, but chest wall examination is recommended.

3. MRI of the breast

If the patient’s breast tissue is dense, it may be difficult to find the tumor through mammography. In addition to ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging is also an option.

What should Breast cancer patients do after the treatment is over? 


There are many other auxiliary examination methods, but not every patient needs to do it. A doctor should choose according to the patient’s disease and hospital, such as chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasound, bone scan, CT scan, blood tumor markers Physical examination, complete blood cell examination, liver and kidney function examination, etc.

NCCN guidelines for review recommendations for breast cancer patients

(1) Perform 1-4 examinations every year within 5 years after surgery, mainly by doctors. After 5 years, it will be changed to once a year.

(2) Regularly ask if there is any change in the family history, and do the corresponding genetic consultation.

(3) Monitor the lymphedema problem and carry out education and treatment

(4) Do a molybdenum target inspection every 12 months

(5) If there are no symptoms and signs of breast cancer recurrence, it is not recommended to use blood and imaging examinations as a method of screening for metastasis during routine follow-up.

(6) Women who take tamoxifen and have a uterus should undergo gynecological examinations (evaluation of endometrium) every 12 months

(7) Women taking aromatase inhibitors or ovarian suppression therapy should have their bone mineral density checked regularly at baseline and thereafter

(8) During follow-up, doctors should encourage patients to adhere to adjuvant endocrine therapy

(9) Evidence shows that moderate exercise, reasonable and healthy eating habits, limiting drinking, and maintaining an ideal weight are factors for a good prognosis of breast cancer.


Symptoms that need attention

If the patient encounters any of the following conditions, please go to the hospital in time, because this may be a sign of recurrence or metastasis.

(1) New, unexplained, persistent pain (such as in your bones, chest or abdomen);

(2) There are new changes or new lumps on the breast or surgical scar or surrounding tissues; unexplained changes in weight, especially weight loss;

(3) Any shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or cough of unknown origin;

(4) Any other persistent, abnormal factors that make you uncomfortable.


Sum up

The above introduces you to the breast cancer review and follow-up related matters. I hope that each patient can follow the doctor’s instructions or the guidelines’ recommendation to do a scientific review work to prevent recurrence or early detection of recurrence, so as to strive for a better prognosis .


(source:internet, reference only)

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