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Papers of the Week

2019 Mar 15

Am Fam Physician



Primary Care of Breast Cancer Survivors.


Zoberi K, Tucker J
Am Fam Physician. 2019 Mar 15; 99(6):370-375.
PMID: 30874405.


With declining mortality rates, the number of breast cancer survivors is increasing. Ongoing care after breast cancer treatment is often provided by primary care physicians. This care includes surveillance for cancer recurrence with a history and physical examination every three to six months for the first three years after treatment, every six to 12 months for two more years, and annually thereafter. Mammography is performed annually. Magnetic resonance imaging of the breast is not indicated unless patients are at high risk of recurrence, such as having a hereditary cancer syndrome. Many breast cancer survivors experience long-term sequelae from the disease or treatment. Premature menopause with hot flashes can occur and is managed with pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments. Vaginal dryness is treated with vaginal lubricants and gels. Because cardiotoxicity from chemotherapy is possible, clinicians should be alert for this complication and perform echocardiography if appropriate. Impaired cognition after chemotherapy is also common; treatment includes cognitive rehabilitation therapy. Patients with treatment-induced menopause develop decreased bone density and should receive dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies. Others experience lymphedema, often best managed with weight loss and complex decongestive therapy. Some women develop chronic pain, which is treated by addressing psychological factors and with appropriate pharmacologic therapy.