- Question from Laurie B: What kind of standard tests do you recommend when treatment is finished for ER/PR-negative, i.e. tumor marker, scans, or blood tests, and how often?
- Answers - Kathy D. Miller, M.D. There are many tests that women may have, including X-rays, CT-scans, bone scans, or blood tests. Most of those tests are not very effective in identifying a recurrence of breast cancer in women who have no symptoms or signs of recurrence on physical examination. For that reason, a regular schedule of testing is specifically not recommended. We would only recommend that those tests be done to evaluate symptoms or new physical changes. The one test that is important in your follow-up is regular breast imaging, such as mammography, on any remaining breast tissue.
- Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. As Dr. Miller just said, since the most important thing is signs or symptoms, surveillance is recommended with your health care provider and includes physical exam. I often see my patients every three months for the first year and less frequently over the next several years, but continue annual visits indefinitely.
- Kathy D. Miller, M.D. Many of my patients find what we call the "Two-Week Rule" very helpful. It is very common to be worried about recurrence after you've been diagnosed with breast cancer. Often, minor illnesses that you've had many times in the past take on new meaning and bring these fears back to the forefront. Having had breast cancer doesn't protect you from getting a cold or the flu or muscle aches after moving the furniture. But if symptoms don't get better the way they always have in the past or the way you think they should over a two-to-three week period, that's something that your doctor should hear about and may prompt further evaluation.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Hormone-Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer featured Kathy D. Miller, M.D., Marisa Weiss, M.D., and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answering your questions about a wide range of issues related to hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in November 2005.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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