How often do I visit?

Breast Cancer Follow Up Protocol

Do I need to regularly
visit my Oncologist?

Yes, very much! All cancers have respective protocols for regular visits to the Oncologist. The reason is that, any cancer, however small, has some chance of coming back. Of course, the earlier the stage, the higher the chance of cure and lesser the chance of cancer coming back. Breast cancer has excellent cure rates; in some patients, even if there is a recurrence, we can treat it well.

For breast cancer, the follow up protocol is pretty straight forward. The one common protocol, which most institutes around the world use, is the ASCO Breast Cancer Follow Up and Management Guidelines. Click on the link to go to that page, and please read the 'Recommnedations' paragraph. It is very easy to understand. Most Hospitals will follow this or a slight modification of the same.

The standard time interval we ask the patient to visit us is (from the time of completion of treatment) :

First 2 years: Every 3 or 4 months
Next 3 years: Every 6 months
After that: Every year

As for the tests on follow up, the guidelines clearly state that, except for a mammography once in 12 to 18 motnhs, unless there are symptoms, there is no need to do any other tests (including imaging, PET scans, blood tests, ultrasounds, x rays etc.). It is up to the Oncologist to assess the patient, take history and examine and then if a doubt comes up, then tests may be suggested. Otherwise no tests. The reason of not doing tests regularly is, by catching a 'recurrence of a cancer' early, before it produces symptoms (and treating it), has not been shown to have any effect on overall survival. This complex statement only means that, unless there are symptoms which warrant test, there is no point in doing tests just like that.

Our Approach at this Step

So with this articleon folow up of breast cancer, we end the section on journey of breast cancer. I do hope you gaiend a good perspective of the journey, by reading this. Your suggestions would be welcome.

Click the button below for the Previous topic, or go to topic of your choice by using the menu below


All the links are in blue colour. You can click the links to go to that page. The page you are presently reading is pink in color

Journey of BC: Diagnosis

1. I feel a lump! - The first visit to doctor
2. Is it really cancer? - Confirmatory tests
3. What is the stage? - Staging and fitness tests
4. Will it be surgery first? or chemo first? - Treatment planning and sequence

Journey of BC: Surgery

5. Should I conserve or remove breast? - Choice of Surgeries for breast cancer
6. How long will be the surgery? - Admission and Surgery
7. Care after surgery - Precautions and guidelines
8. What next? - The Pathology Report

Journey of BC: Further Treatment

9. How many chemo cycles? - Chemotherapy Consultation
10. Is a PORT necessary? - ChemoPORT insertion
11. Will I be normal during chemo? - The Chemotherapy time
12. Is Radiation painful? - Radiation Therapy
13. Yes!! I did it! - Treatment is over
14. How frequently do I meet doc? - Follow up guidelines - You are presently on this page

Other Topics

Risk Factors - The Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Symptoms of Breast Cancer - Know the Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Early Detection of Breast Cancer - The Guidelines

Neo Adjuvant Chemotherapy (NACT) - For LABC
Sentinel Node Biopsy - How is it done?
Targeted Therapy - Trastuzumab
Hormone Therapy - Who gets it?