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Follow-up After Breast Cancer Treatment Remains Critical

One of the happiest days in a breast cancer patient’s life is when a doctor announces the need for treatment is over. Whether this signals a successful surgical outcome or the end of rounds of chemo or radiation, the news is like music to the ears. That news, however, doesn’t mean that women should stop seeing their doctors. Recent research, however, indicates that many breast cancer patients are not going in for the routine follow ups this disease demands.

The retrospective study found an alarming number of American women were not receiving adequate follow-up care. The number added up to about a third of all American breast cancer patients. The data researchers used to draw these results came from the National Cancer Database.

While the American Cancer Society and others recommend mammography six to 12 months after radiation or other forms of treatment are completed and annual checkups after that, the study found a relatively low compliance rate. The reasons behind the low compliance rate were not looked into, but may include a lack of patient education on the importance.

Follow-up exams are considered vital for ensuring recurrences haven’t presented. Routine tests can also be very important for catching any potential spread early or the presence of cancer in the remaining breast. Recurrences, just like the initial tumor, are often much easier to treat if they are caught as early as possible. That makes follow-up imaging especially important.

Women who have undergone breast cancer treatment are strongly advised to talk to their doctors about routine follow-up exams and tests. Going in when request can be a vital step in safeguarding long-term health.
It is estimated about 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the coming year. About 40,000 Americans will die from this disease over the next 12 months. All women are encouraged to talk to their doctors about their risks, prevention and screening.

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