What’s Next? Life After Breast Cancer

Sep 24, 2021 | Cancer

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After your last breast cancer treatment is over, you may be wondering: What comes next? Some women choose to create a survivorship plan.

What is a Survivorship Plan?

A survivorship plan is a summary of treatment and recommendations for follow-up care. It can include:

  • A concise history of treatments with your medical providers’ information
  • A list of follow-up appointments and questions you have for your future medical providers
  • A record of your long-term side effects
  • Advice from your medical care team
  • Directions for self-care, including diet and exercise recommendations

Talk with your primary care provider (PCP) about developing a survivorship plan that’s right for you.

Potential Long-Term Effects and Late Symptoms

Some breast cancer survivors think that the end of chemo treatments means the end of their symptoms. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and many people face long-term effects and late symptoms. Some long-term and late side effects of breast cancer treatment can include:

  • Depression
  • Premature Menopause
  • Infertility 
  • Difficulty with cognitive functions like memory
  • Sleep trouble or insomnia
  • Breast tissue changing density or shape

Make sure to track your long-term side effects in your survivorship plan and discuss them with your PCP.

Lowering Your Risk of a Breast Cancer Recurrence

The good news is that there are ways to reduce your risk of your breast cancer coming back, according to research from the American Cancer Society. These recommendations include:

Losing Weight

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can also have other health benefits. The American Cancer Society states that weight loss improves the quality of life in breast cancer survivors and may lower the risk of getting some other cancers. It’s important to discuss your weight loss plans with your PCP so that they can come up with a plan that’s right for you.

Increasing Exercise

 According to the  Journal of the National Cancer Institute, meeting the U.S. minimum guidelines for exercise greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer coming back in patients. The minimum guidelines for exercise are 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, per the Department of Health and Human Services.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Diets higher in fruits and vegetables are connected to lower rates of breast cancer, per the International Journal of Cancer. Healthy diets can also lower your risk for other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Early detection is key to fighting breast cancer. Learn more about our breast health and imaging services across our health system.

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