Follow-up care for inflammatory breast cancer refers to the after-treatment protocols conducted by the healthcare team to look after any recurrence, manage the side effects, and monitor the patients’ overall health. Both medical and physical examinations are included in the follow-up care of inflammatory breast tumour. Watching the recurrence of breast cancer are seen in test reports of follow-up care. The symptoms due to long term effects of radiation therapy such as breathlessness, a dry cough, and chest pain is treated with steroids. The doctor will propose checks and testing to check for late effects based on the symptoms of the patient’s inflammatory breast cancer treatment. Managing the side effects while receiving treatment is a critical follow-up care approach. Personalizing the follow-up care plan is essential for patients with breast cancer conducted by the medical care team. Effective communication with the doctor regarding the long term effects of all the treatments will be effective in the future.
Follow-up Care for Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Follow-up Care for a inflammatory breast cancer patient does not end with the end of active treatment that was going on. Even after that, the health care team looks after the cancer recurrence, managing the side effects developed due to the treatment and monitoring your overall health. This is called follow up care.
Your follow-up care of Inflammatory Breast cancer includes medical tests, physical examination or both.
Doctors usually keep track of your recovery in the months and years ahead. MRI scans done at regular intervals and a history and physical examination are best to monitor if the tumour is stable or is trying to come back.
Inflammatory breast cancer rehabilitation is usually recommended, and this could mean any of a wide range of services, such as physical therapy, career counselling, pain management, nutritional planning, and emotional counselling.
Watching for recurrence of inflammatory breast cancer
One of the things to take care of after inflammatory breast cancer treatment is recurrence. Breast Cancer recurrence happens when a few cancerous cells remain even after treatment; they again grow until they show up any signs or symptoms or are seen in test reports.
Scan-xiety is often used for the stress the patient or the family can have before the follow-up tests. Inflammatory breast cancer can be back in the breast or other areas of the body. Commonly, a recurrence is found when a person has new symptoms or an abnormal finding on physical examination. The symptoms depend on where cancer has recurred and can include:
- A new lump in the breast, under the arm, or along the chest wall
- Headaches or seizures
- Bone pain or fractures
- Chronic coughing or trouble breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Feeling ill
Managing long-term and late side effects of Inflammatory Breast cancer
Most people encounter different side effects while receiving treatment. But in some patients, side effects linger beyond the treatment duration. These are the long term side effects.
Late side effects can develop after months or even after years of treatment.
These side effects, both late and long term, can be both physical and emotional 1.
If you had a Inflammatory Breast cancer treatment known to have particular late effects, you might need physical examinations, blood tests, or scans to help find and manage them.
- Long term effects of surgery – The chest can have a different shape and size after mastectomy. If lymph nodes were removed as a part of the surgery, a condition called lymphedema could develop, which causes swelling of the arm, hand, breast or chest wall and is a lifelong risk for patients.
- Long term effects of radiation therapy – Inflammatory Breast cancer patients experience breathlessness, a dry cough, and chest pain 2 to 3 months post-radiation therapy as the treatment can cause swelling and a hardening or thickening of the lungs called fibrosis. These symptoms may appear similar to the symptoms of pneumonia but do not go away with antibiotics. The symptoms can be treated with steroids.
- Long-term effects of trastuzumab or chemotherapy – Inflammatory Breast cancer patients who received trastuzumab or specific types of chemotherapy called anthracyclines may be at risk of heart problems. Patients treated with chemotherapy also risk other long-term side effects, such as menopausal symptoms, fatigue, permanent numbness and tingling of the fingers and toes, chemo brain, and weight gain.
- Long-term effects of hormonal therapy – Patients who take hormonal therapy for many years can have menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes. People taking an AI, such as exemestane, anastrozole, or letrozole, should periodically take a bone density test during treatment since these drugs can cause bone weakness or bone loss, which increases the risk of breaking a bone. In addition, AIs can sometimes cause pains, aches, and stiffness during treatment.
Keeping personal health records
You, along with your doctor, should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care Inflammatory Breast cancer plan. Some patients, after the treatment, continue to see their oncologist, while others go back to the care of their family/primary care doctor. This usually depends on various factors, including the type and stage, side effects, health insurance rules, personal preferences, beliefs and expectations.
- 1.Matro JM, Li T, Cristofanilli M, et al. Inflammatory Breast Cancer Management in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network: The Disease, Recurrence Pattern, and Outcome. Clinical Breast Cancer. Published online February 2015:1-7. doi:10.1016/j.clbc.2014.05.005