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Mastectomy: Follow-Up Care

Successful treatment of your cancer is the first step toward a healthier future. Now you can start a follow-up program. This should include visits to your healthcare provider and regular mammograms. You also need to know how your breast and chest area normally look and feel so you can find any changes right away. Each part of this program will help give you peace of mind as you start your life after treatment.

Visit your healthcare provider

Even after treatment, your provider will want to watch your health closely. See your provider as directed. You may be asked to come in twice a year or more often. Other members of your healthcare team will also want to see you. At these visits, report any changes in your breasts or problems with your general health.

Schedule mammograms

Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to have mammograms on the breast that wasn't removed. During your appointment, X-rays may be taken. MRIs may be done along with your mammograms. This is common after treatment for breast cancer. If both breasts were removed (double mastectomy), you no longer need to have mammograms.

Become familiar with how your breast and chest area look and feel. If you’ve had breast surgery or radiation therapy, your breasts, chest, and armpit probably look and feel different. There may be numb areas and/or places where the skin feels hard or tight. Ask your provider what changes are normal and what to look for. Remember to check:

  • Both the left and right side of your chest

  • Any cuts (incisions) or scars

  • Above and below your collarbone

  • Your armpits

  • Your entire chest wall, down to the bottom of your ribs

  • Your hand, wrist, and arm on the treated side for swelling (lymphedema) or changes in how well you can move

Woman's torso with shading over area to examine after mastectomy.
Feel for changes in the shaded area shown above.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Richard LoCicero MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021
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