The completion of treatment is an important period of transition for the person as they shift from regular contact with the treatment team and away from the safety of the hospital. Individuals may feel anxious at the prospect of no longer having the treatment centre as a support system.60 Treatment centre staff must communicate effectively with the person's local community health services, ensuring information and support needs continue to be met.
Recommendations for follow-up of women with early breast cancer are available, but may need to be individualised.18, 61 A minimal follow up schedule is recommended, with the core components including clinical review (history and examination) and mammography.13
While the goals of follow up in people affected by breast cancer include the early detection of a local recurrence and screening for a second primary breast cancer, they also extend to:13
- detection and management of treatment-related toxicities
- psychosocial support
- promoting well-being with a focus on lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and weight management
- identification of family history that may warrant additional education, support or intervention.
Shared follow-up care is an innovative model of care that shares the delivery of follow-up care after early breast cancer between the General Practitioner and the specialist. Its use is currently being evaluated in a number of Australian settings. A summary of this work can be found on the Cancer Australia Shared follow-up care webpage.
Identify the common emotional concerns of people affected by breast cancer following completion of breast cancer treatment.
Discuss the role of the SCN and other members of the health care team in follow up care of people who have completed treatment for breast cancer.