Karen Syrjala of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle suggests patients get a summary of treatments -- surgery, radiation and chemotherapy -- and discuss monitoring their long-term effects. She says the patients should also deal with the fear the cancer could return and talk to their primary-care physician about other quality-of-life issues. Counseling may also be a good idea.
Syrjala also recommends breast cancer survivors plan healthy life-style choices to help lower risks. These include weight control through exercise and a diet high in fruits and vegetables, no smoking, limiting alcoholic drinks to one per day, using sunscreen to protect skin but getting enough vitamin D.
Lastly, Syrjala suggests confronting symptoms and discussing quality-of-life questions with doctors and cancer survivors, as well as making use of resources available in the community and online
"Don't suffer unnecessarily," Syrjala says in a statement. "Talk to your doctor if you have fatigue or lack of stamina that does not improve with time, chemobrain that makes it hard to work or remember what you need to do, or other aches, pains and symptoms that make it hard to enjoy your life."