Follow-up for breast cancer patients
After you have completed all the active parts of your breast cancer treatment, such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, and your breast surgeon or oncologist feels you are ready, you will no longer be given pre-scheduled follow-up appointments.
Instead of routine follow-ups, you can contact the breast unit directly to arrange an appointment if you feel that you might need to be seen in clinic.
You will be able to access this service, sometimes called self-supported management, for five years after your active treatment ends. After five years you will still continue to have your regular mammograms but will need to go back to see your GP if you have any concerns or notice anything unusual.
This system is used by many other breast units in the UK. Although some patients find pre-arranged visits useful and re-assuring, many patients find these hospital visits a source of great anxiety and not particularly helpful, unless they have a particular concern that they wish to discuss.
There is very good evidence to show that following up patients in clinic does not prevent cancer returning and does not increase life expectancy.
Before you enter self-supported management, you will be given a booklet which contains:
- all the information you need to contact the breast unit and arrange follow-up appointments for yourself;
- details about your personal type of breast cancer, the treatments you have received so far and any medication and investigations that you will need in the future - your treatment plan;
- other information that we think you may find useful as you recover from your treatment for early breast cancer.
Arranging a review
Contact the breast care team by calling 023 8120 3753 to arrange a review by a member of the breast unit if you have concerns about:
- your ongoing hormonal treatment
- possible side effects from your chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment
- problems related to your original breast surgery or questions about breast reconstruction
- new changes in your breasts or chest wall region
- new medical symptoms that you are worried could represent a spread of your breast cancer.
Leave a brief message and a contact telephone number on our answer phone.
You will be contacted by one of our specialist breast care nurses within two working days. They will briefly discuss the nature of your concern with you and if necessary arrange a clinic appointment with either your surgeon or your oncologist.
We will aim to see you within two weeks of your telephone call.
Your GP can also use this number to contact us if he or she feels that you need to be seen by the breast unit.
You will continue to be routinely offered appointments for follow-up mammograms for ten years following initial diagnosis.
After this time we recommend that women continue with routine three-yearly screening. Women over the screening age of 70 should also continue with screening, by self referral.