Life After Breast Cancer Treatment
A cancer survivor is someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time they receive a diagnosis, during cancer treatment, and after treatment. There are steps that survivors can take to keep themselves healthy after they have finished cancer treatment.
It is important to follow up and continue seeing your health care team even after you finish treatment. At first, you will probably have appointments every 3 to 6 months. It is likely that the longer you have been free of cancer, the less often the appointments will be needed. Remember to:
- Continue seeing your primary care provider for regular medical checkups,
- Tell your provider right away about any health problems or any changes in the area where you had treatment or in your other breast, and
- Continue getting mammograms and clinical breast exams as recommended by your doctor.
Keeping copies of your medical records allows you to keep track of your own care and gives you accurate information to share with other doctors in case you move or change insurance plans. You can request records by filling out a medical record release form at your doctor's office or hospital. Remember to keep all of your records together in one easy-to-find place.
You may also want to ask your cancer doctor for a brief (1-2 pages) summary to help your primary care provider give you the best possible care over the course of the rest of your life. The summary should include:
- Your cancer diagnosis and stage,
- All of your test results,
- Descriptions of all of your surgeries, including their findings,
- All of your treatments: for chemotherapy - the name of the drugs, including the dose, timing, and any side effects, for radiation - the location of where the radiation was directed and the total amount received,
- Any other therapies, such as nutrition or counseling,
- A list of recommended follow-up tests and how often they should be done, and
- Full contact information for all of the specialists involved in your cancer care.
Encourage your close relatives (daughters, sisters) to have recommended breast cancer screenings. Remember, breast cancer survivors can become champions and leaders for others.
For more information on cancer survivorship and life after cancer treatment, visit: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment.