Question:If I have had a mastectomy, how do the doctors check for breast cancer?
Answer:Every woman who has been treated for breast cancer should establish a lifelong relationship with a physician. It can be her primary care physician, it can be one of her treating physicians, medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, radiation therapist or it can be her gynecologist. And she must be seen and examined at regular intervals.
For the first two or three years after diagnosis, it's usually every three to four months. The interval can be lengthened as the patient goes on in her life and stays well. At the time of the examination, usually the area of the mastectomy wound, whether it's just a mastectomy or it's a mastectomy and a reconstruction, should be palpated or felt by the doctor so that he or she can pick up any irregularities in the skin surface, any changes in the skin that could be the first sign of a recurrence in the wound.
Additionally, and obviously, the other breast must be examined as well each time. And the other areas that should be examined should be the lymph node areas -- the ones above the collar bone, called the supraclavicular nodes and the lymph nodes in the axilla or the underarm area and those areas should be examined at the same time as the breast and the chest wall.