After being diagnosed with breast cancer, your primary goal is to recover from it completely. Fighting cancer and coming out of it makes you a cancer survivor. But you must understand that you might still observe some changes occurring in your body and some emotional changes too. It is crucial to undergo breast cancer supportive therapy and survivorship to live a normal, happy, and healthy life again.
About Breast Cancer Supportive Therapy and Survivorship
After the treatment, you must visit your doctor regularly. This must be followed by regular follow up. The doctor needs to check for any changes in your breasts like redness, rashes, itching, swelling, pain, lumps, or weight loss. The use of medications like chemotherapy can cause side effects which also can be addressed . The doctor will also check your bone density, diabetes, and blood pressure. Thus specialists provide cancer patients with comprehensive care through treatment and even post-treatment.
What is Breast Cancer Supportive Therapy?
The aim of breast cancer supportive therapy and survivorship is to make a cancer patient feel better during and after cancer treatment. It includes:
- Emotional concerns of the patients – this includes addressing the sadness and distress felt throughout the treatment.
- Control of menopausal symptoms or pain management.
- Physical therapy for arm swelling.
What Happens in Breast Cancer Supportive Therapy and Survivorship?
During breast cancer supportive therapy, your doctors will help with the therapy required after the treatment or removal of breast cancer. This includes:
- Lymphedema –As part of the surgery, most of the people with breast cancer have at least two/three lymph nodes removed from under the arm (sentinel lymph node biopsy) and, sometimes many extra nodes (axillary lymph node dissection). If the cancer has spread, it most likely has moved into underarm lymph nodes first as they drain lymph from the breast. Most people also require radiation therapy to the chest area and/or underarm. Radiation and surgery can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels that lymph moves through. Over a period of time, the flow of lymph can overpower the remaining pathways, resulting in a backup of fluid into the body’s tissues. Lymphedema specialists will help you improve arm function.
- Pain management – It is a result of chemotherapy or radiation. This pain is usually diagnosed in the breast or chest wall.
- Regaining bodily functions – As a result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you might observe stiffness, weakness, or fatigue. The team of doctors will provide you with specific treatments to help you regain your functions.
- Integrative therapies – This includes massage and acupuncture to improve blood circulation in your body.
- Fertility issues – Your fertility might decrease as a result of breast cancer. You need to talk to reproductive endocrinologists to understand your situation and how to restore your fertility.
- Sexual dysfunction – If you feel that you might not be able to have a normal sex life after breast cancer treatment, you can get help from sexual health experts.
- Menopause symptoms – You can discuss menopausal symptoms with your gynecologist to get advice and a cure for the symptoms to experience relief.
- Stress management – Supportive therapy also includes some specialized programs to develop skills to cope with cancer and seek support from other people with cancer to manage stress.
- Nutritional counseling – It is necessary to consult your dietician regarding your diet to remain healthy after the treatment.
- Heart diseases – At times, people suffer from heart diseases during or after cancer treatment. You must consult a cardiologist if that is the case.
- Lifestyle choices – By consuming a healthy diet, quitting smoking, taking up physical activities, you can improve your health after treatment.
- Support from breast cancer survivors – Joining such groups or communities and talking to survivors will give you the strength to lead a happy life again even after cancer .
What is Breast Cancer Survivorship?
Breast cancer survivors have a wide range of experiences. The number of female breast cancer survivors has increased over time due to early detection through widespread mammography. One-third of female breast cancer survivors are younger than 65 years of age. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer survivorship includes the entire journey from the diagnosis of cancer to the complete treatment of cancer. Cancer survivorship begins from the time you are diagnosed with cancer to the end of initial treatment, the transition from treatment to extended survival, and long-term survival.. Breast cancer survivorship includes the treatments and services provided to people even after cancer is no longer active inside their bodies. The survivorship program includes doctors, nurses, surgeons, oncologists, cardiologists, and other healthcare providers. You will be given a care plan along with information on health maintenance and symptoms related to the treatment. This starts as early as genetic risk assessment.
What Happens in Breast Cancer Survivorship?
Breast cancer survivorship includes:
- Review of ongoing symptoms and concerns after breast cancer treatment.
- The panel of doctors will provide you with a record of a summary of your treatment.
- You will be provided with a follow-up care plan prepared by your doctor, including the schedule of upcoming tests recommended based on your diagnosis and treatment.
- The doctor will explain to you how to reduce the risk of cancer recurring and help you recover quickly.
- The doctor will refer you to dieticians, plastic surgeons, cardiologists, or dermatologists. This collaborative care from doctors with specializations in different aspects of your care will help you recover quickly.
- You will be provided with comprehensive care to meet your psychological needs and family requirements. octors might suggest innovative treatment using the latest diagnostic techniques.
- Doctors will recommend some lifestyle changes to help you have a healthier life.
Based on extensive research, it is evident that younger breast cancer patients may experience impaired fertility, and survivors with premature menopause are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Hormonal treatments for breast cancer can result in menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Hence, a cancer survivor needs to undergo supportive therapy and survivorship to lead a normal life again.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do breast cancer survivors live a long life?
Yes, breast cancer survivors live a long, satisfying, and happy life when the cancer is detected early, and the patients are provided with advanced treatment.
Can you tell me about the cancer survivorship program?
The cancer survivorship program helps survivors manage physical and emotional changes after undergoing cancer treatment.
What exactly is the meaning of the term cancer survivorship?
Cancer survivorship begins from the diagnosis. Survivors are patients who no longer show any sign of cancer after the treatment and thus live with, through, and beyond cancer.