How women cope with their diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support if you need it. Not all of them work for everybody, but one or more of them should help. You could:
Most women with breast cancer have an operation as part of their treatment. Getting back to normal after surgery can take some time. It’s important to take things slowly and give yourself time to recover.
During this time, avoid lifting things – for example, children or heavy shopping bags – and avoid heavy housework. You may also be advised not to drive.
Some other treatments, particularly radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can make you very tired. You may need to take a break from some of your normal activities for a while. Don’t be afraid to ask for practical help from family and friends.
After your treatment has finished, you’ll be invited for regular check-ups, usually every three months for the first year.
If you’ve had early breast cancer, your healthcare team will agree a care plan with you after your treatment has finished. This plan contains the details of your follow-up. You will receive a copy of the plan, which will also be sent to your doctor.
During the check-up, your doctor will examine you and may carry out blood tests or X-rays to see how your cancer is responding to treatment. You should also be offered a mammogram every year for the first five years after your treatment.
Although it’s rare, your treatment for breast cancer may cause new problems, such as:
Talk to your healthcare team if you experience these or any other long-term effects of treatment.
Dealing with Changes to Your Body
A diagnosis of breast cancer may change how you think about your body. All women react differently to the bodily changes that happen as a result of breast cancer treatment. Some women react positively, but others find it more difficult to cope. It’s important to give yourself time to come to terms with any changes to your body.
Although most cases of breast cancer occur in women over 50 who gave experienced the menopause, some younger women have to cope with an early menopause brought on by cancer treatment.
Symptoms can include hot flushes, vaginal dryness and loss of sexual desire. Talk to your healthcare team about any symptoms you have and they’ll be able to help.
A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast, which can be worn inside your bra to replace the breast that’s been removed.
Soon after a mastectomy, you’ll be given a lightweight foam breast to wear until the area affected by surgery or radiotherapy has healed. After it’s healed, you’ll be offered a silicone prosthesis. Prostheses come in many different shapes and sizes, and you should be able to find one that suits you.
If you didn’t have immediate breast reconstruction (carried out at the time of a mastectomy), you can have reconstruction later. This is called a delayed reconstruction.
There are two main methods of breast reconstruction – reconstruction using your own tissue and reconstruction using an implant. The type that’s most suitable for you will depend on many factors, including the treatment you’ve had, any ongoing treatment and the size of your breasts. Talk to your healthcare team about which reconstruction is suitable for you.
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Breast Cancer Screening
Source: NHS UK