Follow-up after treatment for secondary breast cancer

After treatment for secondary breast cancer, you’ll have regular appointments with your cancer specialist and specialist nurse. They will monitor how the cancer has responded to treatment and how you are feeling generally. If you have any problems or develop new symptoms in between appointments, contact them straight away. Some women may be referred to a doctor or nurse who specialises in controlling symptoms. It’s normal to feel worried before your appointments. Talking to your family and friends about how you feel can help.

Although coping with secondary breast cancer can be difficult, there will be times when you’re getting on with day-to-day life. Taking good care of yourself is important. Get enough rest and ask family and friends to help out. Save energy to do the things you really enjoy.

When you feel able, try to keep physically active. Even short walks will give you more energy but don’t overdo it. Try to eat well even if you don’t have much of an appetite. You can ask to see a dietitian if you need more advice.

Follow-up

After your treatment you’ll be seen regularly by your cancer specialist and specialist nurse at the hospital. They will monitor how the cancer or any symptoms you previously had have responded to treatment. You may have further scans or x-rays if needed.

If you are still having symptoms, you may be seen by a doctor or a nurse who specialises in symptom control.

Many women find that they get anxious before appointments. This is natural and it may help to get support from family, friends or our cancer support specialists during this time. If you have any problems, or notice any new symptoms in between your regular check-ups, let your doctor know as soon as possible.


Living with secondary breast cancer

At times, coping with secondary breast cancer can be very physically and emotionally demanding. But there will also be periods when the cancer or its symptoms are under control and you’re getting on with day-to-day life.

Looking after yourself is important and there are usually things you can do to help yourself.


Looking after yourself

Get enough rest

This is important, as your body uses up a lot more energy when you’re coping with treatments or symptoms. Try to:

get a good night’s sleep - we have more information if you're having difficulty sleeping

ask family and friends to help out with household tasks, shopping, etc

save energy for the things you want to do and pace yourself (if you have a busy day rest the following day).

Our section on coping with fatigue has helpful tips on how to reduce tiredness.

Keep physically active

Keeping physically active can help you during and after treatment. Even regular short walks will help give you more energy and you’ll feel better. You can do it for a little longer and further each day. But listen to your body and be careful not to overdo it.

Being more physically active may improve symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. It also keeps your bones healthy and builds your muscle strength.

Looking after your bones is important if you have had an early menopause or are taking aromatase inhibitors. Both of these increase the risk of bone thinning.

We have more information about bone health.

Ask your cancer specialist, GP or specialist nurse for more information and advice.

You can read more in our section on physical activity and cancer treatment.

Eat healthily

Eating healthily will improve your general health and you’ll also feel better and have more energy. If you’ve put on weight with treatments it will also help you to manage your weight.

Try to eat:

  • five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • more chicken and fish (especially oily fish)
  • more high-fibre foods
  • less red and processed meat
  • less saturated fat (eg pastries, samosas, cakes, cheese)
  • less salt.

Our section on eating well after cancer treatment has more information and our section on weight management and cancer has advice on keeping to a healthy weight.

Even if you haven’t got much of an appetite try to keep eating well by having regular snacks. There are also lots of different supplement drinks available (some on prescription) to help make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrients. Ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a dietitian if you need more advice.

We also have helpful tips on coping with eating difficulties.