In this Article. When breast cancer comes back, it's called recurrence. Breast cancer can recur at any time or not at all, but most recurrences happen in the first 5 years after breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer can come back as a local recurrence (meaning in the treated breast or near the mastectomy scar) or somewhere else in the body. Regional recurrence – Breast cancer that returns in a nearby region, such as the lymph nodes in the armpit or collar bone, is known as a regional recurrence. Distant recurrence – Also called metastatic recurrence, this type of recurrence describes breast cancer that returns in a distant area of the body, such as the bones, lungs or liver.
Facing Cancer Recurrence. Cancer can come back for a number of reasons, so you shouldn’t feel like you have done anything wrong. At this point, it’s not important to worry about why you have recurrent cancer but focus on taking care of yourself. Breast cancer recurrence can take place within months or years after a patient’s initial treatment. The goal of preliminary treatment is to completely destroy all cancer cells, but sometimes certain cancer cells go undetected and are able to withstand surgery, chemotherapy, radiation .
Treating local recurrence If you had breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), a local recurrence in the breast is usually treated with mastectomy. If the initial treatment was mastectomy, recurrence near the mastectomy site is treated by removing the tumor whenever possible. This is often followed Last Revised: August 18, 2016. Breast cancer can recur at any time, but most recurrences occur in the first three to five years after initial treatment. Breast cancer can come back as a local recurrence (in the treated breast or near the mastectomy scar) or as a distant recurrence somewhere else in the body. The most common sites of recurrence include the lymph nodes, the bones, liver, or lungs.
Even though the whole breast is removed during a mastectomy, breast cancer can return to the chest region. This is known as local recurrence. It is also important to note that the more lymph nodes that were affected with cancer at the time of mastectomy, the higher the risk for having the cancer return.