WOODBRIDGE—Once breast cancer treatment has ended, follow-up care is very important. Maintaining ongoing communication with your oncologist and surgeon and scheduling regular appointments is vital.
“It is important to continue to perform self breast exams on the unaffected side, and even if you have had a mastectomy and reconstruction, perform self checks of the skin and surrounding area. Your physician will determine how you should be monitoring the unaffected breast in addition to the self exams. Between medical visits, watch for any changes in your body,” says Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Beth Rothman, MSPT, M.Ed., CLT.
“If you have had any lymph nodes removed, watch for any signs of swelling in the arm on the side of your operation. Also, be aware that you should have no pain or difficulty moving the shoulder on the operated side after the surgical site has healed. If you notice any of these problems, physical therapy is available to treat and correct most of these problems.”
Coordinate any additional visits to gynecologists and primary care physicians for routine physicals with your oncologist. This can reduce duplication of blood tests. Also, women taking adjuvant hormonal therapy should discuss the side effects with their oncologist and alert their physicians should any adverse reactions develop.
Rothman is the program leader for Raritan Bay Medical Center’s new and free weekly and monthly breast cancer support programs at the medical center’s Medical Pavilion at Woodbridge, 740 Route 1 North, Iselin. A workshop for those newly diagnosed that addresses ways to help participants get through the upcoming treatments as easily as possible is held every Wednesday, 9 to 10 a.m. A stage III and beyond group, under the direction of a licensed social worker, is held every second Tuesday of the month, 6 to 7 p.m., and every fourth Tuesday a survivor network group is held 6 to 7 p.m. for people at any stage of treatment or recovery.
The mission of all programs is to create a welcoming environment for attendees so they may learn important information about maintaining good health after breast cancer, available support resources and create relationships to promote shared experience. Rothman has over 25 years experience as a physical therapist, is a certified lymphedema therapist who specializes in breast cancer rehabilitation and has undergone treatment for breast cancer.
“Take care of your emotional and physical well-being. Make this a priority in your life,” says Rothman. “Avoid the tendency to compare your treatment plan and outcome with other breast cancer patients. Every diagnosis is a little different.”
Registration is required for the groups, call 1-732-362-3860. For more information about the Medical Pavilion at Woodbridge visit http://www.rbmc.org/medical-services/medical-pavillion-urgent-care-center-at-woodbridge.
In summary Rothman says that; during regular breast self-exams after breast cancer treatment watch for symptoms such as:
• Changes in your breasts, including new lumps in your breasts or chest.
• Bone pain or tenderness that does not go away.
• Skin rashes, redness or swelling.
• Shortness of breath or chest pain.
• Persistent abdominal pain.
• Unexplained weight loss of 5 lbs or more.
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