Follow-up Care

The frequency of breast cancer follow-up visits will depend on many things, including your general prognosis, your doctor's recommendations and your geographic location. CancerCare Manitoba has been working with family and community physicians to enable follow-up to occur in a combination of ways. You may be seen by:

Whichever way is set up for your care, you always have the opportunity to be referred back to your oncologist if the need arises. Many women are more comfortable being cared for by a doctor in their own community.

If you find yourself tense and anxious prior to your follow-up visits, know that you are not alone. The testimony of many "survivors" is that such feelings accompany these office visits, even years past diagnosis.

Follow-up is designed to allow the early detection of new occurrences in the breasts and adjacent lymph nodes. The emphasis on early detection explains the reliance on mammograms and clinical breast exams in follow-up care.

As a rule, however, there is no corresponding effort to detect the presence of metastases early. Early diagnosis of metastases does not affect life expectancy. Special x-rays, scans and blood tests will only be ordered if/when symptoms warrant. Having said this though, a thorough history or discussion about how you have been feeling and what type of changes you may be experiencing is always a part of your follow-up visit. This is often where subtle changes are noted by your oncologist and followed up.

Ideally, follow-up will have more than one aspect:

A variety of specialists of one kind or another may assist you in this process. Throughout, a good relationship with a family physician near you is very important.