While actively undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, you will make regular visits to various cancer specialists according to the types of medical care you are receiving at that time. The frequency of these visits will reduce after active treatment is complete.
Gradually, you may see your surgeon and possibly your radiation oncologist less frequently. If you are receiving some kind of endocrine therapy such as tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor like anastrozole (Arimidex®), letrozole (Femara®), or exemestane (Aromasin®) you will continue seeing your medical oncologist once or twice a year. After you have completed all of your active treatment, you will likely need to visit your various cancer specialists on a rotating basis.
Most importantly, you should connect or reconnect with non-cancer specialists (such as your primary care provider and/or gynecologist) to establish a long-term relationship that will last beyond your breast cancer treatment. A primary care provider (PCP) such as your gynecologist or primary care physician can check for other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, bone loss, and ensure you receive vaccines, such as the flu shot.
The role of an Internist in Breast Cancer
Kimberly Peairs, M.D., discusses the internist's role in managing the side effects of treatment, general disease prevention measures, and screenings for related cancers.
The provider can also recommend screening for other cancers, such as colon, cervical or recurrent breast cancer. A PCP (for instance, an internist) is an excellent source of information on bone and heart health, a balanced diet, and physical activity to help optimize your overall health and wellness.
Since follow-up care will vary depending on the type of treatment you received, you should speak with your doctors about what the follow-up care will be, who will be responsible for ordering future medical tests, and what you should do if you develop new symptoms. You may expect the following:
Self breast exams
Scans and blood work
MYTH: Eventually, I will be able to stop my mammograms. Get the facts.