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Regular Exams, Mammography Needed After Breast Cancer

Frequent radiologic exams, history-taking and surveillance recommended to find recurrences

THURSDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- To prevent the risk of recurrence, breast cancer patients should have physical exams every three to six months for the first three years after treatment, then every six to 12 months for the fourth and fifth years, then annually, according to updated guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The report is published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

James L. Khatcheressian, M.D., of the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and colleagues updated the ASCO guidelines on breast cancer follow-up by reviewing the relevant literature from 1998 through March 2006.

All breast cancer patients should have careful regular history, physical exams and mammography conducted by experienced physicians. Post-treatment, mammography should be given one year after the first mammogram and at least six months after radiation treatment completion in patients with breast-conserving surgery. Genetic counseling is necessary for women at high risk for hereditary breast cancers. Other tests such as chemistry panels and computed tomography scans are not routinely recommended in asymptomatic patients who have no specific findings.

"The risk of breast cancer recurrence continues through 15 years after primary treatment and beyond. Continuity of care for breast cancer patients is recommended and should be performed by a physician experienced in the surveillance of cancer patients and in breast examination, including the examination of irradiated breasts," the authors conclude.

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