TNBC: Risks and Fear of Recurrence

Updated 
April 18, 2018
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The risk of recurrenceinfo-icon, or breast cancer coming back, is highest in the first 5 years after a diagnosisinfo-icon of triple-negative breast cancerinfo-icon. Aggressiveinfo-icon cancer cells may travel from the breast to other parts of the body. These cells move through the bloodstream and pathways called the lymphatic channels, which carry fluid away from the breast to the lymphinfo-icon nodes. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill these stray cells and lower your risk of recurrence.

After 5 years, your risk of recurrence goes down. In fact, as time goes on, your risk for recurrence may be lower than that of someone treated for estrogen receptor-positiveinfo-icon breast cancer.

If you still have breast tissueinfo-icon after surgeryinfo-icon, the risk for developing a new breast cancer in the same or opposite breast does not decrease over time. Keep up with regular doctor’s appointments and mammograms to find any new breast cancer.

Most people with triple-negative breast cancer don’t have a recurrence or develop a new cancer. But you may be overwhelmed by worries about breast cancer returning. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can bring these emotions to the surface, as can news about a friend, family member or a famous person’s diagnosis. Your fears may be stronger before you go for follow-up appointments and when you wait for test results. To lower your anxiety, try yoga, meditation or other activities you enjoy.

Consider seeking emotional support through counselinginfo-icon, a support groupinfo-icon or other programs. Talking with someone who understands can help a great deal in reducing your anxietyinfo-icon and stressinfo-icon.

Get more tips on managing fears of recurrence.

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