Signs of breast cancer recurrence

Kevin Fox, MD
Last Modified: February 24, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in May 2001. I had a radical mastectomy. My surgeons tell me I am free of cancer. I would like to know what I should be looking for in case of reccurrence. I am aware that the best indicator of reccurrence is how well I know my body and to detect any changes. What changes should I be looking for?  


Answer

Kevin Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Patients concerned about recurrence should report, in my opinion, any symptom that has no obvious explanation, and lasts for more than a week. If a patient drops a tire iron on their foot and their foot hurts, it need not be reported. If they have a week of back pain, and don't know where it came from, it should be reported. Routine x-rays and scans, other than annual mammograms, are not recommended.