Late Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment
Once breast cancer treatment ends, most side effects go away.
However, you may have some long-term side effects. And new side effects may occur months or even years after treatment ends. These long-term and new side effects may be called late effects of breast cancer treatment.
Late effects vary from person to person. So, it can be hard to plan for them and hard to cope with them.
Talk with your health care provider about any health issues you have. It may help to keep a record of side effects as they happen to track them and to discuss them with your provider. Although some conditions (such as early menopause) cannot be reversed, the symptoms can be treated.
Possible late effects of breast cancer treatment
Late effects of breast cancer treatment include (in alphabetical order):
- Bone health problems
- Changes after mastectomy
- Changes in the look and feel of the breast after lumpectomy
- Changes in the look and feel of the breast after radiation therapy
- Changes in the look and feel of the breast after reconstruction
- Cognitive function (problems with memory and concentration)
- Early menopause
- Emotional distress and depression
- Fatigue or insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Fear of breast cancer recurrence
- Heart problems
- Joint and muscle pain
- Lung problems
- Menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes and vaginal symptoms)
- Numbness (neuropathy)
- Sexuality and intimacy issues
- Weight gain
Click on the treatment types below to learn about some possible late effects linked to each (in alphabetical order):
Quality of life after treatment
“Quality of life” describes a person’s overall well-being.
Your mental and physical health (including symptoms or side effects such as pain and fatigue), ability to perform daily roles and sexual function are all part of your quality of life.
- Quality of life issues after breast cancer treatment
- Quality of life issues related to metastatic breast cancer
Research is ongoing to improve all areas of breast cancer care, including survivorship.
After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider, we encourage you to consider joining a clinical trial.
Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline
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BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Komen offers a custom matching service to help find clinical trials that fit your health needs, including clinical trials on survivorship, such as quality of life issues.
Learn more about clinical trials.