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Follow-up care for triple-negative breast cancer

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The schedule for follow-up care for triple-negative breast cancer is the same as it is for other types of breast cancer. After treatment ends, you will see your doctor:

  • During the first 3 years after treatment: Every 3 to 6 months
  • During years 4 and 5 after treatment: Every 6 to 12 months
  • Six years or more after treatment: Once a year

If you still have remaining breast tissue, you will get a yearly mammogram. Be sure to ask your doctor how often you should have screening.

Bring any questions to your follow-up appointments. Tell your oncologist about any new headaches, pains, or problems that are out of the ordinary, severe, or last longer than you've experienced in the past.

Work with your healthcare providers to create a treatment summary and a plan of action for your post-treatment care, also called a survivorship care plan. This should include information about potential long-term side effects, screening and prevention recommendations, emotional and financial issues, follow-up care referrals, support resources, and ways to improve your overall health.

You probably won’t get any more tests and scans after treatment than would anyone with another type of breast cancer unless you start to experience new symptoms. Large clinical trials show that women with early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer who have routine CT scans and blood tests to check for cancer return during the follow-up period do not do better or live longer than those who don’t get the tests. Regular testing can lead to extra tests and surgeries that cause anxiety and could create more medical problems. Extra tests do not help extend life in early-stage breast cancer, whether the cancer is triple-negative or any other type.

Not having routine tests and scans after treatment may increase your fears. You may even feel powerless. Pay attention to your body, and don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you are not feeling well. You know your body better than anyone, so you are key to helping your doctor do what is best for you. Doctors find recurrences mostly through physical exams and good health histories.

If you have a very high risk of developing a new breast cancer, digital mammography and MRI may be used together to help your doctor see breast changes. Breast MRI can also find changes that are not cancer, though. You may have to go through biopsies to find out.

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Reviewed and updated: April 18, 2018

Reviewed by: Lisa Carey MD, FASCO

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.

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