Completing breast cancer treatments may come with a combination of feelings and questions about what happens next. At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute (WVCI), we understand that you’ll still need additional medical and emotional support even once your treatment plans are finished. To help you find some peace of mind and give you some general direction, we’ve compiled a list of considerations for living as a survivor of breast cancer.
While it’s certainly an achievement to complete breast cancer treatment, you should expect to continue follow-up care. Follow-up care can include additional appointments, tests, and screenings. Here is a general breakdown of what your follow-up care may look like.
Your breast cancer doctor may discuss a future care plan for how you will address any issues that may occur due to your breast cancer diagnosis. This may include identifying a plan if your cancer returns or if you experience prolonged side effects from your breast cancer treatment.
You’ve probably noticed by now that a cancer diagnosis and treatment come with quite a few medical records. It’s a good idea to organize those records so that you can share them with your primary care physician. You’ll want to include helpful information such as an overview of your diagnosis, pathology reports, and any treatments that you’ve completed. While medical records are stored digitally, it’s always helpful to have your own copies on hand. You won’t have to wait for your doctor to gather the information, and you’ll be ready for all of your future appointments.
Once you’ve completed a breast cancer treatment program, it’s only natural that you may have some concerns about cancer returning. You likely have questions about what you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer again. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Cancer that comes back after treatment is known as recurrence. However, cancer that develops in addition to the original cancer is called second cancer. Being diagnosed with breast cancer puts you at a higher risk of developing second cancers later on. A second type of breast cancer is the most common second cancer that breast cancer survivors face. Other types of second cancers include:
This is not a comprehensive list, and other types of cancers may also develop. Continuing your follow-up care will help your doctor identify any early warning signs of second cancers.
Ongoing support and resources are beneficial tools for breast cancer survivors. Emotional support groups, patient advocacy programs, and financial resources are some of the resources we make sure that our patients have on hand. There are other resources available on the state and national levels that may be helpful to some cancer survivors. If you’d like to know more about the support and resources for breast cancer survivors, don’t hesitate to reach out to your breast cancer specialist for more information. WVCI is dedicated to being there for you every step of the way, from initial breast cancer diagnosis through recovery and into survivorship.