Future breast cancer screening

Although some women report that breast reconstruction reduces their fear of breast cancer coming back, some women still experience fear and anxiety, particularly around the time of annual check-ups. It’s important to remember that many people experience aches and pains, but these symptoms arn’t usually a sign that breast cancer has come back. A woman who experiences symptoms that don’t go away, or who experiences feelings of fear or anxiety that interfere with day-to-day life, should talk to a member of her breast care team.

There’s no evidence that a breast reconstruction impairs the detection of breast cancer.

CHECKING YOUR BREASTS AFTER BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

After surgery it’s very important that you continue to check both your reconstructed breast and your natural breast. Your surgeon or nurse can show you how. Your doctor will also regularly examine your breasts after your reconstruction.

Things to look out for include:

Breast tissue that feels different (for example harder or tighter)

Change in the appearance or shape of the breast

Change in skin texture - puckering, dimpling, rash, thickening

Visible lump or bulge

Lump or lumpy area you can feel in the breast or armpit

The nipple turns in or points differently

Any kind of discharge from the nipple

A rash or swelling on the nipple or the areola (the dark area around the nipple)

Enlarged lymph nodes under either armpit

Swelling of the upper arm

Unusual pain or discomfort (different from tenderness before your period).

These signs don’t necessarily mean your cancer has come back, but it’s important to tell your nurse or doctor if you find anything that concerns you.

MAMMOGRAMS AND BREAST SELF EXAMINATION AFTER THE SURGERY

Screening mammograms aren’t usually necessary after a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, but, if you’ve only had one breast reconstructed, you’ll need to have regular screening mammographies on your other breast. Mammography isn’t necessary on breasts that have been reconstructed. You should also continue with breast self-exams and clinical breast examinations on your uninvolved breast.

Also, if there is a clinical concern about the reconstructed breast ultrasound and diagnostic mammography may be used to help clarify the situation.

Future screening-mammogram

MRI

Your doctor may recommend that you have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done every few years on your reconstructed breast to check for signs of implant rupture.