The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Medical Care After Breast Cancer Treatment

After you finish treatment for breast cancer, for the next 5 years, you’ll see your oncologist and other members of your health care team on a regular basis. Depending on your situation, you’ll see them 1-4 times a year. After that, you’ll see your oncologist or you may see your primary care physician regularly for many years for follow-up care.

The goals of follow-up visits are to [1-3]:

For people who have an inherited gene mutation related to breast cancer, and those with a strong family history of breast cancer or other cancers, follow-up visits may also include recommendations for screening and risk reduction for other cancers.

It’s best to continue to see your primary care provider and other health care providers to [1-3]:

  • Monitor your general health, such as checking your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease (including breast cancer treatments you may have had).
  • Get other routine health screenings, such as bone density tests and screening for other cancers.
  • Get gynecological care (for women), such as pelvic exams and Pap smears.
  • Manage other medical problems.

Recommended medical care after breast cancer treatment

The table below shows recommended follow-up care with your oncology team after breast cancer treatment.

These visits are a good time to discuss how you’re doing emotionally. If you feel anxious or depressed, tell your health care provider. They may refer you to a support group, counselor or other resources. They may also recommend medication to treat your anxiety or depression.

Learn more about support groups and other types of support.

Recommended medical care after breast cancer treatment



Plan for care

Medical history and physical exam

Everyone treated for breast cancer

1-4 times a year (depending on your situation) for 5 years, then every year

Mammogram (both breasts)

People treated with lumpectomy

6-12 months after radiation therapy ends, then every year

Mammogram (opposite breast)

People treated with mastectomy

1 year after mammogram that led to diagnosis, then every year

A reconstructed breast(s) does not need mammography screening

Bone health exams

Women at higher risk of osteoporosis due to risk factors including:

  • Aromatase inhibitor use
  • Early menopause due to treatment
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Age 60-64 years with family history of osteoporosis or with low body weight

Baseline bone mineral density test, then every 1-2 years, depending on a person’s risk factors

Adapted from National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and American Cancer Society materials [1-3].

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends breast cancer survivors get the seasonal flu shot.

If you’re currently in treatment for breast cancer or have been treated in the past, you’re at higher risk for complications from the seasonal flu [4].

If you’ve had chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other breast cancer treatments in the past month, call your health care provider if you have any flu symptoms.

Find more information from the CDC about the seasonal flu.

Find information about COVID-19 and breast cancer.

  • What does my follow-up care include? What is the schedule of my follow-up visits?
  • Who is in charge of my follow-up care? Which health care providers will I continue to see? Is there anyone I don’t need to see anymore?
  • What symptoms should I be aware of and discuss with you (or the health care provider in charge of my follow-up care)?
  • Are there healthy lifestyle behaviors (such as exercise) that may be linked to a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence?
  • What do I need to consider if I would like to have a child now that I’ve been treated for breast cancer?
  • What is the best way for me to treat menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes? What can I do to manage vaginal dryness and/or painful intercourse?
  • Can you suggest ways my spouse/partner and I can address issues related to our sexual relationship, or can you refer me to a psychologist or counselor who specializes in these issues?
  • What is lymphedema and what are my chances for developing it? What signs or symptoms should I watch for and tell you about?
  • What can I do to maintain bone health?
  • Can you suggest a counselor or support group that can help me adjust to life after breast cancer treatment?
  • How does my having breast cancer affect the risk of my family members?
  • Are there things my family can do that are linked to a lower risk of breast cancer?
  • Should my family or I consider being tested for BRCA1, BRCA2 or other inherited gene mutations? Can you recommend a genetic counselor to help me and my family decide if genetic testing is right for us? What issues should my family and I think about when considering genetic testing?

Learn more about talking with your health care provider

If you’ve been treated for breast cancer, Susan G. Komen® has a series of Questions to Ask Your Doctor resources that may be helpful. For example, we have a Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Lymphedema resource.

You can download, print and write on the resources at your next doctor’s appointment. Or you can download, type and save it on your computer, tablet or phone using an app such as Adobe. Plenty of space and a notes section are provided to write down answers to the questions.

There are other Questions to Ask Your Doctor resources on many different breast cancer topics you may wish to download.

How would a breast cancer recurrence be found?

Breast cancer that recurs at the original site is called a local recurrence. A local recurrence is usually found on a mammogram, during a physical exam by a health care provider or when you notice a change in or around the breast or underarm.

Breast cancer that returns and spreads to other parts of the body is called a distant recurrence (metastasis). This is metastatic breast cancer and may also be called stage IV or advanced breast cancer. It’s usually found when new and persistent symptoms are reported to a health care provider and follow-up tests are done.

If you have a local recurrence or metastasis, it’s not your fault. You did nothing to cause it.

Learn about the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Learn more about local breast cancer recurrence.

Learn more about metastasis, including signs and symptoms that should be discussed with your health care provider.

Updated 08/09/23


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