Breast Cancer Follow-Up Care Guidelines

doctor and patient

Routine follow-up care is important for breast cancer survivors who have completed active treatment.  Six years after its last update, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has re-reviewed its recommendations on breast cancer follow-up care.  After considering 14 new publications, the committee concluded that no revisions to the previous guidelines are needed.  The following is a summary of ASCO’s recommendations for breast cancer follow-up care, as well as a summary of tests that are not recommended.


  • Regular medical history and physical exam

– every 3-6 months for 3 years after primary treatment

– every 6-12 months for years 4-5

– annually year 6 and beyond

  • Patient education about signs/symptoms of recurrence
  • Referral to genetic counseling when appropriate

– Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage

– patient history of ovarian cancer

– history of ovarian cancer in any first or second degree relative

– history of breast cancer before age 50 in any first degree relative

– two or more first or second degree relatives with a history of breast cancer

– patient or relative with a history of bi-lateral breast cancer

– family history of male breast cancer

  • Monthly breast self-exam
  • Mammography, for women treated with lumpectomy

– 1 year after the initial mammogram, but no sooner than 6 months after radiation therapy

– yearly thereafter (unless otherwise indicated)

  • Regular pelvic exam


The following tests are NOT RECOMMENDED for routine follow-up care of asymptomatic patients:

  • Routine blood tests (i.e. complete blood counts or automated chemistry studies)
  • Chest X-rays
  • Bone Scans
  • Liver Ultrasound
  • PET Scans
  • CT Scans
  • Breast MRIs
  • Tumor markers (i.e. CEA, CA 15-3, CA 27.29)


Source:  “Breast Cancer Follow-Up and Management After Primary Treatment:  American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Update”