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Home > Comman Type of Cancer > Followup Care for Breast Cancer Patients

Followup Care for Breast Cancer Patients


Regular followup exams are important after breast cancer treatments. Regular checkups ensure that changes in health are noticed. Followup exams usually include examination of the breasts, chest, neck, and underarm areas, as well as periodic mammograms. If a woman has a breast implant, special mammogram techniques can be used. Sometimes the doctor may order other imaging procedures or lab tests.

A woman who has had cancer in one breast should report any changes in the treated area or in the other breast to her doctor right away. Because a woman who has had breast cancer is at risk of getting cancer in the other breast, mammograms are an important part of followup care.

Also, a woman who has had breast cancer should tell her doctor about symptoms & other physical problems, such as pain, loss of appetite or weight, changes in menstrual cycles, unusual vaginal bleeding, or blurred vision. She should also report headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, coughing or hoarseness, backaches, or digestive problems that seem unusual or that don't go away. These symptoms may be a sign that breast cancer has returned, but they can also be signs of various other problems. It's important to share these concerns with a doctor.

Breast Cancer Causes and Prevention

 Doctors can seldom explain why one woman gets breast cancer and another doesn't. It is clear, however, that bumping, bruising, or touching the breast are not causes breast cancer. And this disease is not contagious; no one can "catch" breast cancer from another person.
Scientists are trying to learn more about breast cancer causes and factors that increase the risk of developing this disease. For example, they are looking at whether the risk of breast cancer might be affected by environmental factors. So far, scientists do not have enough information to know whether any factors in the environment increase the risk of this disease or causes breast cancer.

Some aspects of a woman's lifestyle may affect her chances of developing breast cancer. For example, recent studies suggest that regular exercise may decrease the risk in younger women. Also, some evidence suggests a link between diet and breast cancer however there isn't a direct link between any food and breast cancer causes. Ongoing studies are looking at ways to prevent breast cancer through changes in diet or with dietary supplements. However, it is not yet known whether specific dietary changes will actually prevent breast cancer. These are active areas of research.

Scientists are trying to learn whether having a miscarriage or an abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Thus far, studies have produced conflicting results, and this question is still unresolved.

Research has led to the identification of changes (mutations) in certain genes that increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer may choose to have a blood test to see if they have inherited a change in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Women who are concerned about an inherited risk for breast cancer should talk to their doctor about breast cancer causes. The doctor may suggest seeing a health professional trained in genetics. Genetic counseling can help a woman decide whether testing would be appropriate for her. Also, counseling before and after testing helps women understand and deal with the possible results of a genetic test. Counseling can also help with concerns about employment or about health, life, and disability insurance. The Cancer Information Service can supply additional material on genetic testing.

Scientists are looking for drugs that may prevent the development of breast cancer. In one large study, the drug tamoxifen reduced the number of new cases of breast cancer among women at an increased risk for the disease. Doctors are now studying how another drug called raloxifene compares to tamoxifen. This study is called STAR (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene).

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