If breast cancer returns
In most cases, early breast cancer will not come back (recur) after treatment. Although the risk is higher with locally advanced breast cancer, most people will not experience a recurrence.
Factors that may make the cancer more likely to come back in the treated breast or in other parts of the body include:
- the cancer was large at the first diagnosis
- the cancer was found in the lymph nodes
- the cancer was hormone receptor negative
- the grade of the cancer was high
- the surgical margin was not clear
- not having or not completing the adjuvant therapy (e.g. radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy) that was recommended after surgery.
Having one or more of these factors doesn’t necessarily mean the cancer will come back or spread.
Being “breast aware”
This can help detect cancer in the other breast. This means regularly looking at your breasts and feeling them to know what is normal for you. Being breast aware and having regular check-ups can also help find a recurrence early so it can be treated.
If you have had a bilateral mastectomy with or without a reconstruction, you should also regularly look at and feel your new shape and get to know your new normal. Report any changes to your specialist, breast care nurse or GP.
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Prof Bruce Mann, Professor of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, and Director, Breast Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Marie Burke, Radiation Oncologist, and Medical Director GenesisCare Oncology, QLD; Dr Susan Fraser, Breast Physician, Cairns Hospital and Marlin Coast Surgery Cairns, QLD; Ruth Groom, Consumer; Julie McGirr, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; A/Prof Catriona McNeil, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Roya Merie, Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Eva Nagy, Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Sydney Oncoplastic Surgery, NSW; Gay Refeld, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Breast Care, St John of God Subiaco Hospital, WA; Genny Springham, Consumer.
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