Breast cancer- During and After Treatment

 Breast cancer- During and After Treatment


A breast cancer diagnosis can significantly alter a person's life. People with breast cancer must contend with physical and psychological changes during and after treatment, including fatigue, nausea, stress, menopausal symptoms (in females), sexual side effects, and negative body image. Monitoring for cancer recurrence is another worrying but essential aspect of post-treatment care.

The following information can help you cope with breast cancer both during treatment and in the weeks, months, and years that follow.

Throughout Treatment 

Regardless of the method of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy), breast cancer treatment has a large variety of side effects, which nearly invariably include fatigue and nausea.


The most frequent adverse reaction to cancer treatment is this. Cancer-related fatigue is different from typical fatigue in that it impacts everyday activities and does not go away with rest or relaxation. Even when the treatment is over, it may last for a while.

Inform your healthcare practitioner if you're feeling worn out while receiving treatment for breast cancer. To rule out underlying causes like anaemia, which can be made worse by cancer or cancer treatments, your doctor may run testing.

Doctors might also advise dietary changes, changes in how you manage your pain, and strategies for getting more restful sleep. And even though it may seem paradoxical to exercise, studies have shown that three to five hours per week of moderate physical activity helps lessen the effects of weariness caused by cancer.


This is yet another frequent adverse effect of breast cancer treatment, particularly when chemotherapy is used. It is crucial that you consult your doctor about how to treat your nausea since it can cause vomiting, which can cause malnutrition and dehydration.

Antiemetics are a class of drugs that treat nausea and are commonly prescribed by doctors. Some patients might also want to inquire about medical cannabis, which may help with nausea relief and appetite stimulation.  Some people may also get relief from ginger tea, chews, or lozenges.

Results on Mental Health

Treatment for breast cancer is mentally taxing, in addition, to physically taxing. Both men and women with breast cancer commonly experience stress, anxiety, and depression. You can be concerned about the cost of treatment, doubt the efficacy of your therapy, or feel alone because of a lack of social support. Therefore, while it's crucial to look after your physical needs and manage any side effects from therapy, don't overlook the importance of your mental healthcare.

Many breast cancer patients find support through therapy (seek out a therapist who specialises in cancer or chronic illness), mental health drugs, breast cancer support groups, writing or journaling, creating art, light exercise if you're able, and meditation or other mindfulness techniques. Contact your care team right away if you're considering self-harm or are feeling helpless.

After Treatment

After their treatment is through, breast cancer patients need to be monitored for recurrence. In addition, negative effects from treatment might remain or develop new ones, known as late side effects, months or even years after treatment.

Follow-up Care and Recurrence Monitoring

Standard screenings and methods are advised by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to check for the return of breast cancer.


ASCO advises men who have undergone a lumpectomy to remove breast cancer to get yearly mammography in the breast that was removed. Annual mammography in the opposing (non-treated) breast is recommended for men who have a history of breast cancer and genetic mutations that enhance their chance of developing the disease.


Women are advised to have a physical examination every three to six months for three years after treatment is finished, then every six to twelve months for the following two years, and then once a year after that.

Your doctor will examine your breasts or chest (depending on whether you had a mastectomy), chest wall, and underarms during this examination. Additionally, your doctor should undertake a gynaecologic exam, look for any lung abnormalities, abdominal pain or tenderness, heart changes, neurological changes, and assess the density and sensitivity of your bones. Patients with breast cancer who received tamoxifen treatment should have a gynaecologic examination in particular because this hormone therapy raises the risk of endometrial cancer.

A mammogram comes next. Women normally undergo a diagnostic mammography every year for three to five years following breast cancer treatment; after that, they can typically convert to screening mammograms. Mammography may not be advised if you've had a mastectomy; instead, your doctor may rely on a physical examination and may suggest MRI.

After breast cancer treatment, X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans are not routinely performed on patients who are asymptomatic. However, these tests might be advised for individuals who are experiencing symptoms or if routine follow-up methods point to a cancer return.

Early Menopause

Following breast cancer therapy, menopausal symptoms are frequent and might include hot flashes, night sweats, dry mouth, insomnia, mood swings, incontinence, and osteoporosis.

It's crucial to consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms following breast cancer therapy.

After breast cancer treatment, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically not advised for early menopause or menopausal symptoms since it raises the risk of recurrence. Doctors advise complementary therapy and a change in lifestyle instead.

Even though they have their own set of negative effects, antidepressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are occasionally used to assist lessen hot flashes. ¹¹ Importantly, menopausal symptoms that develop after treatment frequently go away on their own with time.

Side Effects Sexual

Women may encounter physical and emotional sexual side effects following breast cancer treatment. These could consist of:

·       Loss of desire or libido

·       Virility dryness

·       Pain during sexual activity

·       Shifts in one's self-esteem

Due to humiliation, shame, a lack of knowledge about available resources or understanding, many people suffer in silence. They could believe that discussing their sexual health with their doctors is "frivolous" or a waste of their time. (It is neither; a person's sexual health and quality of life after breast cancer are intimately related.) The environment that healthcare providers create for these crucial dialogues also needs to be improved.

Your doctor will be able to suggest therapies like vaginal moisturisers or lubricants and vaginal dilators for physical side effects like dryness and pain.

Pelvic floor treatment, a type of physical therapy that targets the muscles supporting your urinary and reproductive functions, may be suggested by your doctor.

The treatment of emotional side effects is just as crucial as the treatment of physical ones. After treatment, patients with breast cancer may benefit from behavioural interventions such as therapy, support groups, and in-person or online sexual health programmes. With the use of these tools, patients can learn about their "new" bodies, learn how to connect with others, rediscover what feels good, lessen their fear and distress during sex, and boost their self-esteem.

Although there is less information on how males fare following breast cancer therapy, they may also encounter side effects. For instance, tamoxifen, an oestrogen-receptor blocker, may cause hot flashes and sexual dysfunction. Discuss your treatment options with your healthcare physician if you have any of these symptoms or others.

Sense of self

Breast cancer, particularly in women who have had mastectomies, can have a severe effect on body image (breast removal surgery). Following a mastectomy, some women report having unfavourable feelings about the way the scars look, feeling less attractive than they did before the procedure, incomplete, less feminine, or less appealing to men.

The intensity of these emotions might vary depending on a person's culture, support network, self-perception prior to surgery, the attitude of their partner, and social pressures or expectations. Making the choice to have breast reconstruction surgery, wear a prosthesis or padding, or "go flat" is a very personal and stressful option for women who have undergone mastectomy (mastectomy without reconstruction or prosthesis).

After a mastectomy, it's common to struggle with conflicting emotions, which is why speaking with others who have also undergone the procedure can be so beneficial. The value of having a support network that comprehends your situation cannot be overstated. Mastectomy sufferers can be guided by a skilled therapist as they separate their personal thoughts and feelings from those of society.

Discovering new ways to connect with your body can also be affirming. Examples include moving your body in a mirror without judgement, painting or taking a picture of a self-portrait, swimming, running, yoga, walking, and meditation. Perhaps most importantly, mastectomy patients should be gentle and compassionate to themselves as they adjust to their changed bodies.


The worst side effects of breast cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, and stress. Even after treatment is finished, both men and women may endure a variety of side effects and may require additional tests and procedures to check for the recurrence of breast cancer. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to assist with the physical and psychological side effects of breast cancer both during and after treatment.

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