After treatment for breast cancer in men

You will have regular check-ups after treatment. These will include a physical examination and mammograms. These appointments are a good time to talk to your specialist doctor or nurse about any concerns you have.

The treated side of your chest will look and feel different after treatment. You’ll be given advice by your nurse on what to look out for. It’s a good idea to know what’s now normal for you. If you notice anything unusual between your appointments, contact your specialist or nurse.

You might want to make positive lifestyle changes after treatment. You might decide to stop smoking or stick to sensible drinking. Hormonal therapy can make some men gain weight. You may want to try to stay a healthy weight by eating healthily and being physically active.

Some breast cancer treatments can cause bone thinning or heart problems later in life. Making positive lifestyle changes can help to keep your bones and heart healthy.

After treatment

After your treatment has finished, you’ll have regular check-ups, which will include physical examinations and mammograms. Your check-ups will be every few months at first, but eventually you may only be seen once a year. Sometimes, instead of routine appointments, men are asked to contact their specialist or nurse if there’s anything they’re worried about.

You may also need to see your specialist or GP if you’re having ongoing treatment with hormonal therapy, or if you have any treatment side effects that haven’t gone away.

Appointments are a good opportunity to talk to your specialist about any concerns you have. However, if you notice any new symptoms or are anxious about anything else between your appointments, you can contact your doctor or specialist nurse for advice. Many men find they get anxious for a while before the appointments. This is natural and it can help to get support from family, friends or one of the organisations listed on our database. You can also contact the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.

Looking after yourself

Although you’ll be carefully checked by your doctor, it’s still a good idea to be aware of what’s now normal for you. Your treated chest will look and feel different depending on the treatment you’ve had. Your breast care nurse can tell you what to expect and explain what changes to look out for. If you notice anything unusual between appointments, contact your specialist or breast care nurse straight away.

Lifestyle changes

After breast cancer treatment some men choose to make some positive lifestyle changes. It’s not to say you didn’t follow a healthy lifestyle before breast cancer, but you may be more focused on making the most of your health. We’ve included information here that may help.

Keep to a healthy weight and eat well

After breast cancer treatment, it’s not unusual for men to find they’ve gained weight. Hormonal therapy, which is usually given for a number of years after treatment, may cause weight gain. Once you’re feeling up to it, it’s a good idea to achieve a healthy weight that’s within the normal range for your height. Your GP can tell you what your ideal weight is.

Our section on weight management after cancer treatment has some helpful tips.

Keeping to a healthy weight also reduces the risk of some other cancers, heart problems and other illnesses such as diabetes. Here are some tips to help you lose weight:

  • only eat as much food as you need
  • eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables
  • eat less fat and sugar
  • become more physically active.

You can read more about eating the right foods in our section on healthy eating and cancer.

Get physically active

Being physically active helps to keep your weight healthy and can reduce stress and tiredness. It also helps to keep your bones strong and your heart healthy.

We have more information about physical activity and cancer treatment. You can also watch videos about the benefits of physical activity, including stories from people with cancer.

Look after your bones

Aromatase inhibitors can cause bone thinning (osteoporosis) in women, but it’s not clear if this happens to the same extent in men. Zoladex may cause bone thinning when it’s given over a longer period of time.

It’s a good idea to look after your bones. Keeping physically active, eating a healthy diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, and not smoking helps to keep your bones healthy.

Our section about bone health has more information.

Look after your heart

Some treatments for breast cancer may increase the risk of getting heart problems later on. Look after yourself by keeping physically active, eating healthily, not smoking and sticking to sensible drinking guidelines. The British Heart Foundation has helpful information and advice.

Stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, giving up smoking is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. Smoking increases your risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis) and is a major risk factor for smoking-related cancers and heart disease.

Our section on giving up smoking has more information and tips to help you quit.

Stick to sensible drinking

It’s a good idea to stick to sensible drinking guidelines, which recommend men drink fewer than 3 units of alcohol a day, or fewer than 21 units a week. It’s recommended that people have at least one or two non-drinking days each week.

There is more information about recommended drinking guidelines in our section on healthy eating and cancer.