Just because treatment is behind you doesn’t mean you can ignore that you ever had cancer. Now is the time to talk to your doctors about a follow up care plan after breast cancer treatment. You may experience issues such as lymphedema, fatigue, or pain. And you most certainly will have questions and perhaps concerns about issues such as recurrence, long-term health effects, or fertility. Most likely, you will be sharing these concerns with your primary care provider, such as a family doctor or gynecologist, and so it helps to know what to share and for the primary care doctor to have a support resource as well.
Thanks to early detection and improvement treatments, nine out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer will complete their treatment and live at least another five years. Eight out of 10 will live 10 years or longer following treatment.
That’s where the Pink Ribbon Survivors Network comes in. Developed by Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncologist and breast cancer specialist Robert Fisher, MD, the network’s website offers an online library of resources and information for survivors, and for their primary care providers. Here you can start to figure out you follow up care plan after breast cancer treatment, along with discussions with your doctors.
The website helps guide women after treatment to ensure essential information is being communicated. Some of the advice for women includes:
- When treatment ends, ask your oncologist for follow up care plan after breast cancer treatment that can help you take an active role in your care, and helps you know which issues to consult your oncologist about, and which to discuss with your primary care physician (PCP). (Sample plans are available on the website for reference.)
- Tell all your doctors about your cancer history and treatment. If possible, have them read your follow up care plan after breast cancer treatment.
- Work with your primary care physician to devise an individual plan, based on your history, for scheduling regular exams, including mammograms, gynecologic exams, bone-density scans, blood pressure, cholesterol and other screenings.
- Tell your primary care physician about any physical problems that interfere with your daily life, such as fatigue, problems with bladder, bowel, or sexual function, concentration issues, trouble sleeping, or weight gain or loss.
- Tell your PCP about any new medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements you’re taking.
- Some breast cancer treatments may increase the risk of future heart disease. Be sure and discuss these risks with your PCP, along with steps to decrease your risk, including maintaining healthy blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol.
- Discuss any emotional problems you’re having, such as anxiety or depression.
The website also provides links to resources for survivors, such as breast cancer support groups, as well as links to credible articles and research on breast cancer survivorship. The network’s website also has a separate section for primary care providers that provides a library of information on caring for a survivor.
To learn more about what you and your doctor need to know about your cancer treatment, visit the Pink Ribbon Survivors Network.