Several weeks ago, I posted information about Living Beyond Breast Cancer's podcast re survivorship issues. It happened last month, and the written report is now available. All of the LBBC programs are excellent, and I encourage you to read this and to explore their website. Here is the beginning and then a link:
Post-Treatment and Survivorship Concerns
P.K. Morrow, MD
Dr. Morrow is assistant professor in the department of breast medical oncology and medical director of the highrisk survivorship clinic at the University of Texas: MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her special interests are in targeted therapy and survivorship issues.Dr. Morrow is assistant professor in the department of breast medical oncology and medical director of the highrisk
survivorship clinic at the University of Texas: MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her special interests are in targeted therapy and survivorship issues.
Question: After treatment, it's hard for me to distinguish health problems that could be symptoms of something potentially dangerous from non-threatening issues. How do I know when to be concerned? How do I know if it's just stress?
Dr. Morrow: This is a very important question. After treatment, we monitor patients through history,
physical exam and breast imaging. In addition, certain symptoms lead us to further testing. For example,
chronic bone pain that is persistent and lasts for two weeks or longer would lead oncologists to order a
bone scan as well as either x-rays or an MRI. However, we understand that, from day to day, each person experiences fleeting aches, pains and discomfort in daily life that are unrelated to metastatic disease. Thus, after treatment, we ask that you inform your healthcare provider of any symptom that is bothering you chronically for two weeks or more. Of course, acute symptoms such as a sudden onset of chest pain should lead to an immediate clinic visit.
Question: If a postmenopausal woman has had surgery and radiation treatment for early-stage breast cancer, which specialist should be monitoring her care plan?
Dr. Morrow: The most important element in breast cancer follow-up care is undergoing regular physical
examination and breast imaging and discussing your symptoms with your doctor. The follow-up care may
be provided by your oncologist or your primary care doctor, as long as your primary care doctor has
corresponded with your oncologist about the important elements of follow-up care for women diagnosed
with breast cancer.
Question: What would you say is the no. 1 survivorship issue?
Dr. Morrow: I would like to pinpoint three top survivorship issues: fatigue/lack of energy, decreased concentration and poor sexual functioning.