Causes and Preventive Measures for Breast Cancer Recurrence Explained by Expert

Why Do Some Breast Cancers Come Back? Expert Shares Causes And Preventive Measures

A breast cancer diagnosis is undeniably a challenging journey, and for many survivors, the battle doesn’t conclude with successful treatment.


Recurrent breast cancer, characterized by the disease’s resurgence after a period of remission, presents a formidable reality for individuals. In this blog post, we embark on an exploration of recurrent breast cancer, its various types, and empowering strategies to confront it with resilience and fortitude.In a study conducted by researchers at the National University of Ireland, Galway, despite a decrease in mortality rates attributed to advancements in screening and treatment modalities, a notable 25-30% of breast cancer patients experience a recurrence of the disease, ultimately succumbing to its resurgence. To delve deeper into this phenomenon, the team at OnlyMyHealth engaged in a discussion with Dr. Rahul Wagh, Consultant Oncosurgeon at Manipal Hospitals, Baner, Pune.

Gaining Insight into Breast Cancer Recurrence

Breast Cancer Comeback

Breast cancer recurrence manifests when cancer cells, previously treated, resurface in the same breast, nearby lymph nodes, or other body parts. This recurrence, which can occur months or years after initial treatment, introduces new complexities for patients and their healthcare providers.

Dr. Wagh elaborated on the diverse types of breast cancers before discussing those with heightened recurrence risks. “Breast cancers are typically categorized based on the presence of receptors within tumor cells,” he explained. “These tumor cells, characterized by uncontrollable division and potential spread throughout the body, define cancer.” He further detailed, “The three main receptors include the Estrogen receptor, Progesterone receptor, and Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER-2). Depending on the presence of these receptors, breast cancers are classified into four subtypes. Three of these subtypes correspond to the presence of one of the aforementioned receptors, while the fourth subtype is known as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), lacking all three receptors.

  • Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Characterized by its aggressiveness, this type of cancer originates in the breast but swiftly spreads to various parts of the body. In stages one to three, TNBC boasts a post-treatment recurrence rate of nearly 40%.
  • Locally Advanced Breast Cancer: Defined by progression within the breast but without spreading beyond the mammary gland, locally advanced breast cancer carries a recurrence rate of 27%.
  • Early Onset Breast Cancer: This form occurs before menopause and affects approximately one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide. Often presenting as advanced and aggressive, it poses greater treatment challenges compared to later-onset breast cancer.
  • With a recurrence rate of 3% to 15% within a decade of remission, early-onset breast cancer underscores the importance of vigilant monitoring and follow-up care.

Factors Contributing to Breast Cancer Recurrence

Breast Cancer Comeback

Emphasizing the significance of early screening and prompt detection, Dr. Wagh highlighted, “While the type of breast cancer plays a role in recurrence, the pivotal factor is the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. If diagnosed in its early stages, recurrence risks are diminished, possibly falling below 10-20%. However, in cases of late-stage diagnosis, survival and recurrence probabilities hinge on factors such as receptor type and treatment accessibility, including targeted therapies.”

      • Factors Contributing to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence:
      • 1. Weight Gain: Gaining weight during or after treatment can elevate the risk of recurrence.
      • 2. Carcinogenic or Immunity-Suppressing Habits: Unchecked exposure to habits such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence.
      • 3. Vigilant Tumor Monitoring: Regular monitoring of tumor growth and spread is crucial for preventing recurrence or effectively managing it before it progresses.
      • 4. Irregular Follow-Up and Treatment Adherence: Failure to adhere to follow-up appointments or properly comply with cancer treatment plans can heighten the chances of breast cancer recurrence.

Coping Strategies for Breast Cancer Recurrence

Coping with Breast Cancer Recurrence: Strategies for Navigating the Journey

  • Open Communication: Foster open and honest communication with your healthcare team. Discuss treatment options, potential side effects, and your care objectives.
  • Treatment Options: Explore various treatment modalities tailored to your specific recurrence type and location. Options may encompass surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, or immunotherapy.
  • Support Network: Rely on your support network, including family, friends, and support groups. Their emotional support can profoundly impact your ability to cope with recurrent breast cancer.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Prioritize a healthy lifestyle characterized by balanced nutrition and regular exercise. These habits can bolster your overall well-being and enhance treatment outcomes.
  • Emotional Well-Being: Consider seeking counseling or therapy to address the emotional toll of recurrent breast cancer on your mental health. Processing your feelings and concerns in a supportive environment is vital for coping effectively.
  • Clinical Trials: Explore the possibility of participating in clinical trials, which may provide access to innovative treatments and therapies. Before participating, consult with your healthcare provider to assess the suitability of these experimental interventions.

Recurrent breast cancer presents a formidable challenge, but armed with knowledge, support, and determination, many individuals confront it head-on and continue to lead fulfilling lives. While early detection and advancements in treatment have improved outcomes, routine checkups remain paramount in the fight against breast cancer recurrence.You are not alone on this journey. Remember, there is hope, even in the face of a breast cancer comeback. Stay strong, stay informed, and keep fighting. If you or someone you know is grappling with recurrent breast cancer, seek guidance and support from healthcare professionals. Together, we can navigate this journey with resilience and hope.

Recurrent breast cancer poses a significant challenge, but with knowledge, support, and determination, many individuals confront it head-on and continue to lead fulfilling lives. Early detection and advancements in treatment have improved outcomes, highlighting the importance of routine checkups as the first line of defense against recurrence. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and hope remains even in the face of a breast cancer comeback. Stay strong, stay informed, and keep fighting. If you or someone you know is dealing with recurrent breast cancer, seek personalized guidance and support from healthcare professionals.