Healthy Living After TreatmentFollow-up After Treatment
As your doctor may have told you, once you have had breast cancer, you have a higher risk for developing a new breast cancer than someone who has never had breast cancer before. That is why it is so important to get the follow-up treatment and care your doctor recommends. The American Society of Clinical Oncology has established the following guidelines for follow-up of breast cancer treatment:
- Have a physical examination performed by a doctor every 3 to 6 months during the first 3 years after treatment; every 6 to 12 months for the next 2 years; and once a year after that.
- Perform a breast self-exam every month
- Have a mammogram every year
- Have a Pap smear and gynecological examination every year
Lymphedema is a build-up of lymphatic fluid, which causes swelling in the arm and hand. Any woman who has had some of her axillary lymph nodes removed or radiation therapy is at risk for lymphedema. It can occur weeks, months, or years after the surgery. However, as long as proper precautions are taken, lymphedema can be avoided in most women. Contact your doctor if you notice symptoms such as:
a.Swelling or a heavy feeling in your arm
b.Tight sensation in your arm or hand
c.Decreased flexibility in your hand or wrist
d.Skin that may “pit” with finger pressure
Healthy living involves what you put into your body.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Strive to eat at least 5 servings per day.
- Eat more whole-grain breads and cereals.
- Eat fewer high fat foods and concentrated sweets. Red meat, many dairy products and fried foods are leading sources of fat - avoid them, as well as processed sweets, such as cakes, cookies, etc.
- Get plenty of calcium. Your body needs at least 1000 mg each day. Try low-fat milk or yogurt, fortified fruit juices, spinich, kale or calcium tablets.
If you do smoke, ask your doctor for help in quitting.
An important of healthy living involves the energy that you release from your body. Physical activity not only burns energy (calories) but can aslo help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
- If you have been inactive for a long time, see your doctor for an evaluation before beginning an exercise program.
- Build physical activity into your daily routine. A brisk walk for 30 minutes is great.
- Do whatever physical activity you enjoy most and gets you moving - dancing, hiking, riding a bike or playing with the kids.
- After exercising, think about how good you feel about yourself and your body. Use that to motivate yourself the next time.
Many studies have shown that high levels of alcohol intake increase the risk of breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation - less than one drink a day.