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The Voice of People With Breast Cancer


Living with Breast Cancer


Risk Factors and Prevention of Recurrence

Anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is in remission can have a recurrence. A person’s risk of a breast cancer recurrence depends on a variety of factors:

Age: Being diagnosed with breast cancer before age 35 increase a person’s chance to have a breast cancer recurrence.

Cancer stage: The stage of the original cancer that an individual is diagnosed with impacts the likelihood of a recurrence. Breast cancer stage is determined by a variety of factors, including tumor size and cancer that involves the lymph nodes. People with larger tumors have a higher risk of a recurrence. Cancers found near the lymph nodes have a greater risk of returning. If the original cancer didn’t involve the axillary lymph nodes, there is a 6% chance of a cancer recurrence. If the original cancer did involve the axillary lymph nodes, the chance of a breast cancer recurrence increases to 25% but drops to 6% with radiation therapy after a mastectomy.

Cancer type: Inflammatory breast cancers and triple-negative breast cancers are harder to treat and are more likely to come recur and spread.

Positive or close tumor margins: If there are positive margins or the margin between the tumor and normal tissue are close, there is an increased risk of a breast cancer recurrence.

A margin is the tissue that immediately surrounds the tumour. A surgeon takes this margin of tissue along with the tumour and has it tested by a pathologist. If a person has positive margins after surgery, it means that cancer cells were detected in the tissue immediately surrounding the tumour.

Treatment of original tumor: A local breast cancer recurrence can occur within 5 years of treatment. Individuals who have radiation therapy following a lumpectomy have a reduced risk of a recurrence, similar to the risk of recurrence following a mastectomy. Those who have a lumpectomy and radiation therapy have a 3% to 15% chance of having a recurrence within 10 years. Having chemotherapy for people with an increased risk of recurrence can reduce that risk. If the original cancer is HR-positive, receiving hormone therapy (also known as endocrine therapy) following treatment may reduce the risk of a recurrence. If the original cancer is HER2-positive, targeted therapy can decrease the risk of a recurrence.

Obesity, exercise, and a healthy diet: A higher body mass index puts an individual as at increased risk of recurrence. Maintaining a health weight, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in you diet, limiting alcohol intake, along with regular exercise reduces the risk of a breast cancer recurrence.

Bone-building drugs: For people at an increased risk of a recurrence, taking bone-building drugs contributes to better bone health and reduces the risk of a distant breast cancer recurrence that spreads to the bones (bone metastasis.

Breast Cancer Recurrence from Cleveland Clinic
Recurrent breast cancer from Mayo Clinic
Recurrent Breast Cancer from

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