Follow Up After Bilateral Mastectomy

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Last Modified: December 13, 2011


What is the current advice on post bilateral mastectomy follow up, short term and long term (mammograms, manual palpation, mri's etc.?


Gary Freedman, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn , responds:

After a woman has undergone a bilateral mastectomy, the usual follow up is an examination by a heath professional twice a year and your own self-examinations monthly. There is no role for screening mammogram of a woman's chest wall, or breast reconstruction. Manual palpation will pick up most recurrences at a fairly small size - for a chest wall after mastectomy, there is little tissue between the skin and chest wall muscle for a recurrence to 'hide'. Similarly, a reconstructed implant is usually behind the pectoral muscle and recurrences can be felt in the thin layer of tissue between the skin and implant. MRI only has a role if there is a question of implant integrity, not routine screening.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat. Series, View the Life After Breast Cancer transcript.


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