You and your doctor will work together to come up with a schedule of follow-up visits and exams that is right for your situation. Your schedule may include the following tests and exams:
- You’ll likely have a physical exam and medical history every 4 to 6 months for 5 years and then every year after that. If you are taking tamoxifen or some other forms of hormonal therapy, you can consult with your doctor about treatment for any side effects you may experience.
- If you had lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery, you’ll arrange for a mammogram of the affected breast 6 to 12 months after radiation is completed, and then mammography on both breasts every year.
- If you had mastectomy, you’ll schedule a mammogram of the remaining breast every year. If you are considered high-risk for developing another breast cancer, whether due to strong family history or a positive genetic test for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, your doctor may recommend breast MRI in addition to yearly mammograms.
- If you are taking tamoxifen, you’ll have a physical exam and medical history taken by a gynecologist every year, because this medication can increase the risk of cancer of the uterus. Any unusual symptoms, such as abnormal bleeding, should be reported immediately to your doctor. (If you have had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus, this recommendation does not apply to you.)
- If your treatments have put you into menopause early or you have already gone through menopause naturally and are taking an aromatase inhibitor, you’ll need regular monitoring of your bone health with a bone density test. Having lower levels of estrogen in the body, which is a result of early menopause or taking an aromatase inhibitor, can impact bone health.
You may need to have additional tests or more frequent office visits, depending on your individual needs. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.