Harder to find cancer second time?

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Question from Honey: Is it harder to find cancer the second time, and will your treatment be different?
Answers - Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. I have personally been down this path and know the anxiety that women experience worrying about it happening. There are two concerns for women. If she has had a lumpectomy procedure done, she is worrying whether or not the cancer will return in the conserved breast. It is common for physicians to recommend more frequent mammography, especially for the first year postoperatively, looking at 6-month intervals rather than annual intervals for screening that breast. In looking at concern about developing a breast cancer on the other side, once a woman has a diagnosis of breast cancer, radiologists routinely take extra diligence in reviewing those mammography films with the mission being to identify an early stage cancer if it were to occur. I don't think that the anxiety for a woman ever goes away once she has been confronted with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Each mammogram is another opportunity for worry, fear, and loss of sleep. I personally encourage patients to take a friend or loved one with them so that they are not alone. Recognizing that the majority of the time, they are going to get a good news report, it's still nice to have someone at your side for that support. Even for women who have had bilateral mastectomies and are no longer having mammograms done, anxiety still continues, recognizing that a small percentage of these individuals, too, will develop recurrence of breast cancer in the flap that remains post mastectomy.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Tackling Fear featured Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answering your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2001.

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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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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