Your primary breast cancer has come back (recurrence)

Recurrence is the term used to describe breast cancer that has returned after treatment (this does not include a new primary breast cancer).

Local recurrence

This is when the breast cancer has come back in the chest/breast area or in the skin near the original site or scar, but has not spread to other parts of the body. Treatment for a local recurrence will depend on what treatment you previously had, but could include surgery, radiotherapy and drug treatments.

Find out about treatment for local recurrence.

Locally advanced (also known as regional recurrence)

This is when the breast cancer has come back and spread to the tissues and lymph nodes around the chest, neck and under the breastbone. Treatment for regional recurrence will depend on what treatment you previously had, but could include surgery, radiotherapy and drug treatments.

Find out about treatment for locally advanced breast cancer.

Secondary breast cancer

Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body. This is called secondary breast cancer. It may also be called metastatic, stage 4 or advanced breast cancer.

Find out about secondary breast cancer.

Tests

When you have a local or regional recurrence of breast cancer, your doctors may recommend that you have tests to see if there is cancer in any other parts of your body before starting treatment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they think your cancer has spread, but your doctors will want to check to make sure you’re being offered the most appropriate treatment.

Tests may include blood tests, a bone scan, a chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan or a PET scan.

Your treatment options will depend on a number of factors:

  • the type of recurrence it is
  • the grade of the cancer
  • the stage of the cancer
  • the size of the cancer
  • whether or not it is hormone sensitive
  • whether or not it is HER2 positive
  • how long ago your original breast cancer was diagnosed
  • what treatments you had previously.

 

Last reviewed: July 2016
Next planned review begins 2018

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