Women who have been diagnosed and treated for early breast cancer have an increased risk of breast cancer coming back or developing in the other breast. Regular follow-up checks ensure that if breast cancer comes back or if a new breast cancer develops, it can be treated promptly.
Follow-up after treatment for breast cancer involves regular physical examinations, and a mammogram or an ultrasound (done before your follow-up appointment, so you can discuss the results at the appointment). If these show an abnormal area, you might need further imaging tests and a biopsy.
You won’t need routine chest X-rays, bone scans or blood tests unless you have symptoms that suggest that cancer has spread.
If you’re involved in a clinical trial, you might have additional tests.
During your follow-up check, your doctor will also:
- monitor and side effects of treatment and help you manage them
- monitor long-term treatments like hormonal therapies
- provide practical and emotional support.
Your follow-up schedule will be planned based on your individual circumstances. In general, the recommended timing is:
- 1 to 2 years after treatment: every 3 to 6 months
- 3 to 5 years after treatment: every 6 to 12 months
- more than 5 years after treatment: every year.
If you notice a breast change or any other symptoms that concern you between follow-up appointments, don’t wait until your next appointment. See your GP or specialist as soon as possible.