Unfortunately, yes. The risk is low but breast cancer can definitely return after both lumpectomy or mastectomy.
The risk of breast cancer recurrence is higher after lumpectomy compared to mastectomy. Radiation therapy is therefore typically recommended after a lumpectomy to lower the risk of recurrence further.
In addition to following up with their cancer team, women with a history of breast cancer should continue to perform self exams after lumpectomy or mastectomy because of this risk of cancer recurrence.
Unfortunately, after a mastectomy, cancer can recurr. The chances of receurence will depend on a number of factors including the cancer type, the grade of the cancer and its stage. For this reason, it is important that women who undergo mastectomy continue to follow up with their surgeons and oncologists.
The answer is a qualified yes - it is not common, but breast cancer can return after primary treatment as a local recurrence (tumor cells remain in the original site, and grow back over time). A regional recurrence can occur in the chest muscles, lymph nodes or in the nodes surrounding the neck. There is also a distant recurrence - also called metastasis, which is the most dangerous type of recurrence.
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