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Follow up appointments

Get information about follow up appointments after treatment for breast cancer and the tests you might have.

Why you have follow up appointments

You usually have follow up appointments every few months to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries. The appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you have about your progress.

What happens

Your doctor or nurse examines you at each appointment. They ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms or side effects, and if you are worried about anything.

You might also have tests at some visits.

The tests might include:

  • a mammogram
  • an ultrasound scan
  • blood tests

You might also see physiotherapists and dietitians during the checkups. You can arrange to see them with your doctor or nurse at the outpatient clinic.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines say that everyone who has had treatment for early breast cancer should have a copy of a written care plan.

The care plan has information about:

  • tests
  • signs and symptoms to look out for
  • contact details for specialist staff, such as your breast care nurse
  • details of support services who can help with problems such as arm swelling (lymphoedema)

How often you have checkups

After your treatment you might have regular check ups for at least 5 years. You have yearly mammograms for at least 5 years. How long you need regular appointments will vary depending on your hospital or clinic. The appointments may continue for up to 10 years, particularly if you have taken part in a clinical trial.

Some hospitals have a system of nurse-led follow up where you don't have regular appointments. In this system you might have regular phone calls with your specialist nurse. Or you can contact them and arrange an appointment if you have any new symptoms or are worried about anything.

Between appointments

Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns between appointments. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms. You don’t have to wait until your next visit.

Life after cancer

In this video Yvonne shares her story of life after breast cancer and how she coped when her treatment finished. She talks about some of the physical effects of the cancer and its treatment and what helped her through.

She and her sister Sonia also talk about what it was like going to check up appointments, something that is not always easy. Coping after treatment finishes can be challenging and hearing about how other people cope can help.

Information and help