What happens after treatment finishes?
When your active treatment (i.e. surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy) has ended, your doctor may recommend a plan for follow-up tests and check-ups. She or he may also tell you when they want to next see you for a follow-up appointment.
Around 12 months after your diagnosis, you will probably have imaging tests, such as a mammogram and/or ultrasound, to check your remaining breast tissue for any changes. You may also be offered an MRI scan, particularly if you are a younger woman and/or have dense breast tissue.
Between check-ups, it's a good idea to get to know how your breasts look and feel. If you detect anything unusual, make an appointment with your GP right away. Remember, swelling and scarring after surgery usually settles down after a few months, while changes in the breast after radiotherapy can take up to two years to settle.
Dealing with check-up stress
Having your annual check-up can be stressful. The following strategies may help you deal with check-up stress:
- plan something exciting to look forward to after your check-up
- take your partner or a friend with you to the appointment
- try relaxation therapy, yoga or guided visualisation to help calm you
- go for a walk and smell the flowers
- remember to keep breathing!
‘I always kept myself really busy for the couple of weeks prior to my check-up and made sure I had something to look forward to on the night of my appointment to relieve the stress.’ – Tiffany