Surgical follow up care following treatment for breast cancer

This leaflet will explain your follow up plan in the surgical clinic. It is possible to transfer your follow up care to your GP. If you wish to transfer your care to your GP then please inform your surgeon. 

Follow up appointments

You will be seen in the follow up clinic in 6 to 12 months after your results appointment.   

This appointment will include an examination by your surgeon or their team, a review of your medication and an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns.  After a year you will not be given any further appointments but will remain under our care for five years.  If you have any questions or concerns you will need to contact your breast care nurse who will arrange an appointment for you to be reviewed.  After five years your care will be transferred back to your GP.

Endocrine therapy/medication

If you are pre-menopausal you will usually be prescribed Tamoxifen tablets for five to ten years. If you are post-menopausal you may be prescribed a different endocrine drug e.g. an aromatase inhibitor drug. Not everyone is suitable for this type of therapy and this will be discussed with you. 

If you are prescribed an aromatase inhibitor drug e.g. (Anastrazole, Letrozole, Extemestane) which are drugs that are a type of hormone treatment sometimes used to treat post-menopausal women with breast cancer, you will need to have a DEXA scan (a scan to check your bone mineral density as these drugs can cause a reduction in the density of your bone mineral). This scan will be arranged by your consultant. Your consultant will also arrange for you to have a blood test and refer you to the osteoporosis nurse specialist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. You will then receive an appointment to see the osteoporosis specialist nurse in the clinic who will do an assessment of your risk of osteoporosis. 

The DEXA scan will be repeated in two years and five years, and will be organised by the osteoporosis team.

Your medication will be reviewed at your appointments but if you have any questions before your appointment then please contact your breast care nurse. 

Mammogram follow- up 

An x ray of your breasts (mammogram) will be carried out each year for five years. Your surgeon or their team will arrange this. The breast screening unit will inform you of the results by letter within three weeks. After five years you will be offered mammograms on the National Breast Screening programme every three years. 

Once you are over 70 years old you are still entitled to have a mammogram but you will have to organise this yourself by contacting your local breast screening unit.

If you are under 50 years old you will continue with a yearly follow up and mammograms until you reach the age of 50.  At 50 you will be offered mammograms on the National Breast Screening programme every three years.

What symptoms do I need to look for between my appointments?

If you notice any of the following symptoms you should contact your breast care nurse for advice:

  • If you develop any swelling to your arm/hand and are concerned you are developing lymphoedema
  • Recent changes in the area of your surgery including rashes or spots that don’t go away
  • New lumps at the site of your surgery
  • New lumps in your armpits or neck
  • New lumps or changes in the other breast or armpit

Any new or persistent changes in your general health that are unexplained and last for more than a few weeks, for example:

  • Any new persistent shortness of breath, or cough
  • Any new persistent neck or back pains 
  • Any new persistent aches or pains

These symptoms may not be related to your previous breast problem but should be checked out if they are persistent. 

Concerns between appointments

If you have any other concerns or questions please contact your breast care nurse/key worker who will give you advice and if necessary arrange an appointment in the clinic for you.

Contact number – 0191 4820000

Data Protection

Any personal information is kept confidential. There may be occasions where your information needs to be shared with other care professionals to ensure you receive the best care possible.

In order to assist us to improve the services available, your information may be used for clinical audit, research, teaching and anonymised for National NHS Reviews and Statistics.  

Further information is available via Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust website (https://www.qegateshead.nhs.uk/fairprocessing) or by contacting the Data Protection Officer by telephone on 0191 445 8418 or by email ghnt.ig.team@nhs.net.