After completing the full treatment for breast cancer, careful follow-up is planned and performed to help early detection of any subsequent recurrence.
The following scheme is usually followed:
- Years 1-2: every 3 months
- Years 2-5: every 6 months
- After 5 years: yearly appointment
The follow-up consists of a clinical examination and an annual mammogram. If necessary, blood samples and other radiological investigations may be requested.
In instances of local recurrence in the breast after breast-conserving surgery, a mastectomy can be performed with a good chance of cure.
The use of routine blood tests, chest radiography, liver ultrasound and bone scan is very controversial. Older clinical studies show no survival improvement for patients in whom these studies were regularly performed. This is partly explained by the lack of efficient treatment for breast cancer metastases.
Today new resources are available, and the survival of these patients is much improved. Therefore, a more detailed examination of some patients may be justified and necessary. Tumor marker detection in the blood is not helpful in screening for recurrence.