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Baylor Health Care System > Physicians & Locations > Irving > About > Baylor Irving Health Briefs > The New Normal: Life After Breast Cancer

The New Normal: Life After Breast Cancer 

After a breast cancer diagnosis, many women face procedures ranging from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation, and often all three. Even once those treatments are complete, the recovery process isn't over.

Naveena Allada, MD, an oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Irving, says, "It really doesn't end at that point. There's quite a bit of follow-up these women go through."

Here are some of the long-lasting health concerns breast cancer survivors face, and the strategies they can try to keep themselves healthy.

What Can Happen

  • Medication side effects. Many women need to take hormone therapy for five to 10 years, and these medications can cause hot flashes, bone loss or vaginal dryness.
  • Post-chemotherapy problems. The powerful drugs used for chemotherapy can lead to long-lasting fatigue and the cognitive problems sometimes called "chemo brain." Heart problems also sometimes develop.
  • Rounds of reconstruction. Women who have breast reconstruction face another set of surgeries and procedures.

What To Do

  • Get regular checkups. After breast cancer, women need physical exams every four to six months for five years and annually after that.
  • Don't miss mammograms. Women who had lumpectomies need a mammogram four to six months after they finish radiation, with repeat tests every six months for two years, then annually. They also need annual mammograms on the unaffected breast.
  • Ask about breast MRI. Some women need breast MRI depending on their risk factors.
  • Manage lymphedema. Many women need therapy or exercises to keep swelling under control.
  • Make healthy choices. Reducing consumption of red meat and alcohol, maintaining a normal body weight and exercising can help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • Reduce stress. Yoga and other techniques can help reduce stress.
  • Seek support. Many women find it helpful to connect with other women who have faced the same challenges. Baylor Irving offers several support groups for people with cancer. To find out if there is a support group for you, please call the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Irving at 972.579.4300.

Dr. Allada says, "Adjusting to the new normal can be challenging for some women. But I always tell them that after going through treatments they become much stronger than they were before."

Cancer Care Close to Home

The Baylor Charles A. Sammons cancer Center at Irving offers comprehensive cancer care under one roof. From screenings and diagnosis to surgery and treatment, the center provides quality, compassionate cancer care right here in your community.

For more information or for a physician referral, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR or search our physician directory.