TNBC: Risks and Fear of Recurrence
The risk of a metastatic recurrence, the breast cancer coming back outside the breast, is highest in the first 5 years after a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer. Aggressive cancer cells may travel from the breast to other parts of the body. These cells move through the bloodstream and pathways called the lymphatic channels, which carry fluid away from the breast to the lymph nodes. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill these stray cells and lower your risk of recurrence.
After 5 years, your risk of recurrence goes down. In fact, as time goes on, your risk for recurrence may be lower than that of someone treated for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
If you still have breast tissue after surgery, the risk for developing a new breast cancer in the same or opposite breast does not decrease over time. Keep up with regular doctor’s appointments and mammograms to find any new breast cancer.
Most women with triple-negative breast cancer don’t have a metastatic recurrence or develop a new cancer. But you may be overwhelmed by worries about breast cancer returning. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can bring these emotions to the surface, as can news about a friend, family member or a famous person’s diagnosis. Your fears may be stronger before you go for follow-up appointments and when you wait for test results. To lower your anxiety, try yoga, meditation or other activities you enjoy.
Get more tips on managing fears of recurrence.