Even after treatment is complete, there's always a chance cancer can recur. True, the more time that passes without a recurrence, the greater your chance of staying cancer-free. But no one can ever say for sure the cancer is cured for good. That's why regular follow-up exams are vital. One doctor should be in charge of your follow-up care to keep track of all the facts. Usually, you'll be seen every few weeks right after treatment, but later this will trickle down to every six months or so.
Breast self-examination (BSE) is particularly important for women at higher risk for breast cancer, which includes every cancer survivor.
Doctors also suggest a clinical breast examination (CBE) as part of your regular check-ups. The doctor or nurse will spend additional time examining the scars and areas under the arms and around the collarbones (where lymph nodes are found).
In addition, every woman who's had breast cancer should have a mammogram once a year. Women who've had a mastectomy should have an annual mammogram on the remaining breast. For women whose breasts are dense or hard to diagnose with mammography, an MRI is advised. Chest X-rays, blood tests and bone scans might also be advised.