Breast Cancer Survivors' Follow-Up Care

Last Editorial Review: 4/23/2002

Women who have had breast cancer are at risk for a second episode of new breast cancer in the opposite breast. This risk is estimated at 0.5 to 1 percent per year. The risk is higher in women who first have cancer at a younger age and those with inherited forms of breast cancer.

The following are recommendations for follow-up care for women who have already been treated for a breast cancer:

  • A regular history and physical examination by a doctor every 3-6 months for 3 years, then every 6-12 months for 2 years, then annually.
  • Breast self examination monthly.
  • Have a Mammogram annually.
  • Pelvic examination annually.
  • Routine blood laboratory testing is not recommended.
  • Routine X-ray testing, bones scans, CAT scans are not recommended.
  • Screening for other cancers (e.g., colon cancer) are according to recommended guidelines for the general population. (Exception would be those women at risk for inherited forms of breast or ovary cancer syndromes who might require additional surveillance for cancer of the ovary, including pelvic ultrasound and measurement of blood CA-125 levels.)

Source: New England Journal Of Medicine 2000;343:1086-1094

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