Your Follow-up Care

Invasive breast cancer is a chronic disease. That is, it may come back, and you may have to fight cancer for the rest of your life. Knowing this, you should take necessary precautions that will ensure early detection, if it does in fact return.

Breast self-exams are recommended once a month to check both the treated area and your other breast. You should report any changes such as lumps, rashes, redness, or swellings to your health care provider right away. A complete physical exam is also needed once a year, which may also include x-rays, mammograms, and blood tests.

If local or invasive breast cancer returns, your treatment will depend upon the location and extent of your recurring cancer, your menopausal status, and general health, and your response to the original treatment. Local treatment may be recommended, consisting of surgery or radiation. Also, some type of systemic therapy is likely to be recommended, such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Early detection and prompt treatment continue to be the best way to keep your body healthy. The earlier breast cancer is found and treated, the better your chances for a complete recovery. To take an active role in early detection of breast cancer, you can:

Practice monthly breast self examinations Get follow-up mammograms at intervals recommended by your health care provider Have regular breast exams and complete physical exams by a health care provider.

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