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How Often Do You See Your Oncologist After Breast Cancer

How Many Women Stop Seeing A Doctor For Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know

More than 20% of women diagnosed with stage I or stage II breast cancer stopped seeing a doctor for breast cancer follow-up care early, according to a study. The research was published in the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Oncology Practice. Read the abstract of Factors Associated With Follow-Up Care Among Women With Early-Stage Breast

What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer

The stages of breast cancer are used to describe the extent of your cancer at the time of diagnosis. Your doctor will base the stage of your cancer on a physical exam and other diagnostic tests. This is known as clinical stage. The final, or pathologic, stage is determined after surgery when the size of the cancer is measured under a microscope and it is definitely known if there is cancer in the lymph nodes.

If you have breast cancer, knowing the stage helps guide your treatment plan. Breast cancer is typically staged with Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV . Cancer stages are based on:

  • whether the cancer is invasive or noninvasive
  • the size of the tumor
  • whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and if so, to how many of them
  • whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or liver

Guidelines For A Healthy Lifestyle

Both during and after cancer treatment, many people want to find ways to reduce the chances of their cancer coming back. Some worry that the way they eat, the stress in their lives, or their exposure to chemicals may put them at risk for recurrence. Cancer survivors find that this is a time when they take a good look at how they take care of themselves and how they might live a healthier life.

You can decide what is in your plan. Ask your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan that includes ways you can take care of your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. If you find that it’s hard to talk about these issues, it may be helpful to know that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Your doctor may also suggest another member of the health care team for you to talk with about wellness, such as a social worker, nutritionist, clergy member, or nurse.

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What To Expect At A First Breast Cancer Visit

What to Expect. During your first visit, your oncologist will explain more about your breast cancer, such as the type and where exactly the cancer may be. The two of you will review your treatment options, and which ones may be best for you. Your doctor may discuss the outlook for your disease. Your prognosis, or chances

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Having a low appetite and/or weight loss. Nausea or vomiting. Rash or skin changes on the breast or chest wall. Changes in the shape or size of the breast, or swelling in the breast or arm. It is important that your surgeon explain what your breast will feel like after surgery and, when used, radiation therapy.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor When You Have Finished Treatment

When you have finished your cancer treatment, you will talk with your doctor about next steps and follow-up care. You may want to ask your doctor some of the following questions:

  • How long will it take for me to get better and feel more like myself?
  • What kind of care should I expect after my treatment?
  • What long-term health issues can I expect as a result of my cancer and its treatment?
  • What is the chance that my cancer will return?
  • What symptoms should I tell you about?
  • Who do I call if I develop these symptoms?
  • What can I do to be as healthy as possible?
  • Which doctor should I see for my follow-up care? How often?
  • What tests do I need after treatment is over? How often will I have the tests?
  • What records do I need to keep about my treatment?
  • Is there a counselor I can talk to or an online or in-person support group you can suggest?
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What Happens After Treatment Finishes

When your active treatment has ended, your doctor may recommend a plan for follow-up tests and check-ups. She or he may also tell you when they want to next see you for a follow-up appointment.

Around 12 months after your diagnosis, you will probably have imaging tests, such as a mammogram and/or ultrasound, to check your remaining breast tissue for any changes. You may also be offered an MRI scan, particularly if you are a younger woman and/or have dense breast tissue.

Between check-ups, it’s a good idea to get to know how your breasts look and feel. If you detect anything unusual, make an appointment with your GP right away. Remember, swelling and scarring after surgery usually settles down after a few months, while changes in the breast after radiotherapy can take up to two years to settle.

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What Is The Difference Between Primary And Secondary Breast Cancer

The first cancer that develops in the breast is known as primary breast cancer. Most breast cancer survivors dont get cancer again however, the same cancer can develop again in the breasts in some cases.

Other times, the first cancer can spread through the blood or lymphatic system to the lungs, brain, bones, and liver. This is known as secondary breast cancer, also known as advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Although it is possible to cure the first cancer, there is no cure for it if it spreads to other organs. However, we can treat it to control and slow down its spread, relieve symptoms, and give you the longest survival possible with the disease.

We treat secondary breast cancer with the same drugs we use to treat the first breast cancer. For example, if the cancer cells spread to the lungs, we dont prescribe drugs for lung cancer but prescribe those used for breast cancer.

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What Happens After Breast Cancer Treatment?

Follow-up care after breast cancer treatment with your oncology team includes :

  • Bone health tests

During follow-up visits, your health care provider will ask you about any symptoms or concerns you may have.

These visits are a good time to discuss how youre doing emotionally.

If you feel anxious or depressed, tell your health care provider. They may refer you to a support group, counselor or other resources. They may also recommend medication to treat your anxiety or depression.

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When Patients Discontinue Their Follow

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice found that 21% of women with early-stage breast cancer stopped seeing their doctor for their follow-up appointments.

For some patients, regular physician visits can be a financial burden to cover traveling costs and taking the day off from work. They may also have anxiety keeping up with their appointments and treatment.

Ask your doctor for a survivorship care plan, as this can help you to keep up with your appointments. It would also include a list of any side-effects you can experience from your treatment, as well as any suggested lifestyle modifications.

What Is Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction may help restore the look and feel of the breast after a mastectomy. Many women who have had a breast removed opt for breast reconstructionin some limited cases, at the same time as the mastectomy, but more often after the mastectomy procedure. With immediate reconstruction, a surgeon performs the first stage to rebuild the breast during the same operation as the mastectomy. A method called skin-sparing mastectomy may be used to save enough breast skin to cover the reconstruction.

Breasts may be rebuilt using saline implants or autologous tissue . Most breast reconstructions performed today use breast implants. For some reconstructions, more than one surgery may be needed.

Mastectomy with reconstruction done on the same day is an option for many women, but the best approach for an individual should be determined through a discussion of various options between the patient and her surgeon.

The decision to have reconstruction is a personal one. Some women choose not to have reconstruction. Others believe it helps their appearance and recovery.

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What Exactly Is Metastatic Breast Cancer

With all the pink-tinted breast cancer awareness thats now part of our lives, its surprising how many people dont know what metastatic breast cancer is, exactlyor even vaguely. One could argue that this is the type of breast cancer we should be the most acutely aware of, because metastatic breast cancer is the only type you can die from. Metastasis means that breast cancer cells have spread from the breast to other parts of the body, like the lymph nodes, bones, brain, or liver. Also called advanced breast cancer or stage IV breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer is always considered terminal, because it is not curableunlike all other types of breast cancer, which you can often beat with treatment. For someone with MBC, the same encouraging words often given to people with early-stage breast cancer, like youll beat this, can be painful to hear, since theyll always be living with the disease. Perhaps the scariest fact that most people dont realize: Among people who have early-stage breast cancer and beat it, a shocking 30 percent will eventually see their disease return in the form of metastatic breast cancer, and the five-year survival rate is 28 percent. The stats are almost too discouraging to process, but nothings more empowering than knowledgeso here are some of the most important things to know about MBC, especially if you or a loved one is staring down this overwhelming diagnosis.

Metastasis doesnt mean hopeless.

What Happens At My First Visit To My Oncologist For Breast Cancer

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If your doctor recently diagnosed you with breast cancer, youll have an appointment to meet your oncologist. These doctors are cancer specialists who will help direct your treatment plan and supportive care. During your first visit, your oncologist will explain more about your breast cancer, such as the type and where exactly the cancer may be.

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How To Find The Right Medical Oncologist For You

Start by asking your primary care doctor for suggestions. Or call a trusted hospital to see what medical oncologists work there and who might be a good fit for you. Choose one who treats the type of cancer you have and who takes your insurance. You can also:

  • Talk to friends or family members whoâve had the same cancer. They can tell you which doctors took care of them and what the process was like.
  • Ask the medical oncologist about their experience and credentials. They can tell you exactly how many years of experience they have and if they have any advanced or specialized training. For example, if the medical oncologist is board certified in oncology, that means they passed an intense, high-level test.
  • Ask how to contact them after hours. Find out if your doctor is available on weekends and holidays.
  • Meet the medical oncologist and staff. You can do this either in person or over the phone. Meeting the team can give you a sense of how theyâre going to help you with your treatment. This is also a good opportunity to make sure theyâre willing and ready to answer your questions.

Local Recurrence And Secondary Breast Cancer Symptoms

When the cancer reappears in the same area as your primary cancer, you can experience the following symptoms:

  • Nipple discharge.
  • A new lump in your breasts.
  • Skin inflammation.

If you have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, the symptoms can vary, as they depend on the location where the cancer has developed. Secondary breast cancer symptoms include:

  • Feeling breathless.
  • Painless lump on the skin.

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How To Reduce Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Discuss ways to help lower your risk of breast cancer recurrence, such as maintaining a healthy weight. Check for signs of lymphedema. Check for changes in your family history and refer you to genetic counseling or genetic testing, if appropriate. Provide medical updates that might change your follow-up care.

How You Might Feel

Questions to Ask After Your Breast Cancer Surgery

During your treatment for breast cancer, you see your doctors and nurses regularly. This is usually before each chemotherapy treatment or weekly during radiotherapy.

Coming to the end of treatment is a milestone for many. But you can have mixed feelings about this, particularly as youve had regular contact with your healthcare team and its now less frequent.

Do speak to your breast care nurse. They can put you in touch with local groups that can help. It can sometimes help to talk to others who have similar experiences.

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What To Expect At An Oncology Appointment

If itâs your first oncology appointment, it could last a few hours. The oncologist will spend time going over your medical history.

They might give you a physical exam, even if your primary care doctor did one recently. Thatâs because physical exams can show signs of cancer that doctors who donât treat it every day might miss. Your oncologist could also order more tests, like imaging tests , or they might take a sample of your blood or urine. You might need a biopsy, too.

During your appointment, the oncologist may give you a basic idea of how long treatment will take. They could also give you a prognosis, or an idea of how youâll respond to treatment. You might also meet other doctors on your treatment team. Theyâll explain things like costs and the insurance process, too.

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Why Should I Choose Memorial Sloan Kettering For Breast Cancer Treatment

Were recognized internationally as a leader in pioneering new ways to treat breast cancer, resulting in optimal outcomes for the 4,500 new breast cancer patients who consult us each year. In fact, most of the effective treatments developed over the past decade were studied and tested by members of our breast cancer team. That means our patients have access to clinical trials with new treatment options that are not available at other hospitals and could turn out to be tomorrows cures.

MSK is also helping women with breast cancer avoid unnecessary treatments. Our experts recently played a leadership role in developing new national guidelines to help women with breast cancer avoid repeat surgeries after lumpectomy while still minimizing the risk that the cancer will return. Choose MSK because we offer:

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What If I Dont Want Cancer Treatment

All treatments carry some sort of risk. A decision to decline treatment has its own risks, too. Breast cancer patients may refuse their doctors treatment recommendations in whole or in part. Palliative care, designed to help control severe side effects such as pain, nausea or other symptoms, may help patients manage their quality of life in the meantime.

Why You Have Follow Up

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At each follow up your doctor or nurse checks how you are coping with any ongoing treatment, for example hormone therapy.

Your healthcare team can give you information and support to help you cope. Your appointments are also a good opportunity to raise any concerns and ask questions that you might have.

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Why Is Follow Up Care Important

Doctors want to keep track of your recovery in the months and years ahead. Follow-up care is also important for screening for other types of cancer. In some instances, patients may be able to visit a survivorship clinic that specializes in the post-treatment needs of people diagnosed with breast cancer.

What Are The Most Common Issues Facing People Who Are Cancer Survivors

Most of the time, people are relieved to complete cancer treatment. Some people, though, got used to planning their days around treatment sessions and having regular contact with their healthcare providers. Theyre thrilled to hear the all-clear but at a loss without their routine.

Many people including people with cancer and their friends and family assume the end of cancer treatment means the end of cancer-related concerns. Understandably, they and their families want to move on from cancer. More than anything, they want to get back to the lives they had before cancer.

But studies show people with cancer often cant leave cancer behind. In general, people who are cancer survivors cope with a range of physical, emotional or psychological issues and social issues. Some people even develop cancer-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Common physical issues

People with cancer may have chronic issues or issues that crop up months or years after treatment is completed. These are late effects. Examples may include:

Common emotional/psychological issues

Social

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Types Of Health Information In The Treatment Summary

  • the date you were diagnosed
  • the type of cancer you had
  • pathology report that describe the type and stage of cancer in detail
  • places and dates of each treatment, such as the details of all surgeries, the sites and total amounts of radiation therapy, and the names and doses of chemotherapy and all other drugs
  • key lab reports, x-ray reports, CT scans, and MRI reports
  • list of signs and symptoms to watch for and possible long-term effects of treatment
  • contact information for all health professionals involved in your treatment
  • any problems that occurred during or after treatment
  • any supportive care you received during treatment

Be an active partner. Many cancer survivors say that getting involved with their follow-up care was a good way for them to regain some of the control they felt they lost during cancer treatment. Being an active partner with your doctor and asking for help from other members of the health care team is the first step. Knowing what to expect after cancer treatment can help you and your family make plans, lifestyle changes, and important decisions about the future.

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