I've had a recurrence

Taking Charge

Learn more strategies for handling a recurrence in Your Guide to Cancer Care.

When cancer recurs, take stock of the skills and resources you’ve developed throughout your journey — and realize that you may be more prepared for what the future holds than you think.

Learn about:

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Is the recurrence local, distant, or regional, and what is the location and extent of the cancer?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend for me, and why?
  • Types of Recurrence

    Cancer can return to the same place, called a local recurrence. It can also return to nearby tissues or lymph nodes, called a regional recurrence, or in a new area of the body, called distant recurrence or metastasis.

  • Have there been any new treatments or therapies developed since my first diagnosis? If so, are there any that you recommend for me? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Are there any clinical trials that I qualify for and that you would recommend for me?
  • What do you think the goals of my treatment should be? Do you recommend focusing on eradicating the tumor, slowing the cancer’s progress down, or relieving symptoms?
  • Do you recommend working with the same group or type of doctors as I did the first time or seeing new doctors?
  • Where can I find out about breast cancer support groups run by professional counselors?
  • What are steps I can take to stay as healthy as possible and reduce my stress and anxiety?

Next steps

1. Get a second opinion. Even if you’re using the same doctors who treated you the first time, it’s still important to get a second opinion. If the two oncologists you consult with have divergent opinions about your treatment, you’ll have to make a decision about which approach — and doctor — you’re most comfortable with, or you can seek a third perspective.

Learn more about financial planning in Your Guide to Cancer Care.

2. Research your treatment options. New, more effective therapies may be available since you were first diagnosed. Researching your options can help you have an informed discussion about your treatment with your doctor.

3. Don’t rush it. In most cases, you can afford to take the time you need to gather as much information as you can, seek a second opinion, and carefully review your options.

4. Get your financial and legal affairs in order. Whether you need to get your financial records together or are considering writing a living will, it’s always a good time to get organized.

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