Do I Need Yearly Mammograms or MRI After Breast Cancer and Reconstruction?

I had mastectomy Oct 2008. Reconstruction finished June 2009. Do I need a yearly mammogram or MRI to continue to look for cancer?

Doctor Answers 11

Breast cancer follow-up

Your question should be best answered by your cancer specialist and is based on many factors.  Your body has shown that it knows how to make breast cancer and you are at higher risk on the other side than the general population.  Ask your doctor their advice. Finally, congratulations and I hope you have years and years of great health!

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Do I need yearly mammograms or MRI after breast cancer and reconstruction?

Thank you for your question!  Typically, the follow-up will be dictated by your breast surgeon and/or oncologist.  Typically, annual mammograms will not be needed, since theoretically all of the breast tissue has been removed.  If there is anything of clinical concern by exam, you will likely be sent for further imaging, which may include ultrasound and/or MRI.  Follow-up exams with your clinicians is highly recommended as well as being in tune with your own body and bringing to somebody's attention if you do find anything different or of concern to you.  Best wishes!  To many years of health and happiness to you!  

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Breast reconstruction, nipple reconstruction, breast cancer, DCIS, mastectomy, TUG flap, DIEP flap, Latissimus flap, fat graft i

Guidelines are set by the NCCN and should be followed by the oncologist and breast surgeon who manage your cancer care.  Mammograms are not done when there is no breast tissue.

Follow-up studies

Oncologists differ in terms of follow-up some want it every other year and others want it yearly, you should speak with your oncologist.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Breast Imaging and Surveilance after Mastectomy and Reconstruction

Breast surgeons and breast oncologists differ in opinion about the best method to monitor a woman after mastectomy and reconstruction. There is no single answer, and what is best for you will depend on a number of factors such as whether or not you are at increased genetic risk for breast cancer (e.g, BRCA gene mutation carrier), whether or not you had disease in one or both of your breasts prior to mastectomy, and the type of reconstruction you had.

It would be best to discuss this with your breast surgeon and, if you have one, your breast oncologist, so that you can find out what is best for your specific situation.

Screening of reconstructed breast

The answer varies amongst oncologists. If you have had a mastectomy and reconstruction, then there is no need for a mammogram after reconstruction.  However, I have seen oncologists perform MRIs or PETs scan for routine cancer surveillance every 6-12 months post mastectomy and reconstruction.  Of course, all this varies based on your tumor biology.

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 211 reviews

Radiographic screening after mastectomy

This depends upon many factors including tumor type, oncotype, cancer staging, etc. The decision is made typically by your oncologist. If you have had a unilateral mastectomy, then screening absolutely continues on the contralateral breast.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

MRI Question should Be Decided By Oncologist

In reality, your oncologist should make this decision, based on your initial staging, treatment, etc.  The higher your stage, the more likely they will want to follow you every 6 months as opposed to every year or every other year for some women.  I would contact your oncologist and see what they recommend, since they are the ones who really understand the risks associated with recurrence levels at different stages, which is what you are really looking for. I hope this helps.

Christopher V. Pelletiere, MD
Barrington Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Yearly MRI after mastectomy depends on several conditions

To some degree, it depends on the type of mastectomy performed and the results of the pathology. If a subtotal or subcutaneous mastectomy is performed or there is suspicion for residual or locally metastatic disease, a yearly MRI may not be unreasonable.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Post- Mastectomy Follow Up

Breast cancer follow up depends on the type of cancer, its stage, the treatment(s) and what your insurance company considers proper and therefore willing to pay for. There is little doubt that MRI is a great imaging modality. But it is expensive and I doubt that all insurance companies would be willing to bear its annual cost. I would advise you to discuss your needs and options with both your surgeon and and your oncologist. Good luck. Dr. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.