Posted by: bcconnections | April 1, 2013

Breast Cancer Follow-Up Care Guidelines

doctor and patient

Routine follow-up care is important for breast cancer survivors who have completed active treatment.  Six years after its last update, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has re-reviewed its recommendations on breast cancer follow-up care.  After considering 14 new publications, the committee concluded that no revisions to the previous guidelines are needed.  The following is a summary of ASCO’s recommendations for breast cancer follow-up care, as well as a summary of tests that are not recommended.


  • Regular medical history and physical exam

– every 3-6 months for 3 years after primary treatment

– every 6-12 months for years 4-5

– annually year 6 and beyond

  • Patient education about signs/symptoms of recurrence
  • Referral to genetic counseling when appropriate

– Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage

– patient history of ovarian cancer

– history of ovarian cancer in any first or second degree relative

– history of breast cancer before age 50 in any first degree relative

– two or more first or second degree relatives with a history of breast cancer

– patient or relative with a history of bi-lateral breast cancer

– family history of male breast cancer

  • Monthly breast self-exam
  • Mammography, for women treated with lumpectomy

– 1 year after the initial mammogram, but no sooner than 6 months after radiation therapy

– yearly thereafter (unless otherwise indicated)

  • Regular pelvic exam


The following tests are NOT RECOMMENDED for routine follow-up care of asymptomatic patients:

  • Routine blood tests (i.e. complete blood counts or automated chemistry studies)
  • Chest X-rays
  • Bone Scans
  • Liver Ultrasound
  • PET Scans
  • CT Scans
  • Breast MRIs
  • Tumor markers (i.e. CEA, CA 15-3, CA 27.29)


Source:  “Breast Cancer Follow-Up and Management After Primary Treatment:  American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Update”




  1. Thanks for this simple, straightforward reminder. Every doctor seems to do something different so it’s good to see what the standard recommendations are.

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