End of treatment

Information for women who have come to the end of treatment for breast cancer

Breast awareness

It is important to stay breast and body aware. Breast awareness involves:

  • being aware of changes in the breast
  • getting know what is normal for you
  • feeling the breast with the flat of your hands
  • taking time to look at the breast in different positions.

Find out more information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

What to report

Talk to the Open Access team or your GP about any new changes that don’t have an obvious cause and that don’t go away.

Changes to report:

  • A change in size or shape.
  • A lump or an area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast.
  • A change in the skin texture such as puckering or dimpling.
  • Redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple.
  • Inversion or in-drawing of the nipple.
  • Liquid coming from the nipple without squeezing.
  • Swelling or lumps around the collarbone.

Symptoms that may be important include:

  • Severe or ongoing headaches that are worse in the morning and don’t get better when lying down.
  • Pain in the bones (the back or the hips) that doesn’t get better with painkillers and may be worse at night.
  • A dry cough or feeling of breathlessness, that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter remedies or a short course of antibiotics.
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Feeling sick (nauseous) all the time.
  • Discomfort or swelling under the ribs or across the upper abdomen.

Further information about this is in our ‘Open Access follow-up treatment for breast cancer' booklet.

Common problems after diagnosis and treatment

All breast cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, can have the possibility of side effects. Each person may have a different experience of treatment-related side effects. If you have concerns about this, the Open Access nurse practitioners will be able to discuss this with you and arrange referrals to other services as appropriate. Common problems include:

  • Fatigue
  • Menopausal changes
  • Joint pains and stiffness
  • Vaginal changes
  • Changes to sleep pattern
  • Emotional changes
  • Work issues
  • Confidence
  • Fear/vulnerability/worry for the future

Further information about this is in our ‘Open Access follow-up treatment for breast cancer' booklet.


Open Access is a programme of supported self-management whereby we do not see you in scheduled clinic appointments. Routine follow-up imaging is arranged by Open Access and the results are sent to you by a letter along with future scan appointments. Follow up may include:

  • Breast imaging surveillance – this generally involves annual mammography for five years or until the age 50.
  • Sometimes additional imaging scans may be indicated. These may replace mammograms or be given in addition to mammograms. This may be because of your age or if the cancer was not seen on a mammogram at diagnosis.
  • A family history of breast or ovarian cancer is important. This may change in a family over time and this can influence how often or for how long breast surveillance should be undertaken. Call the Open Access team if your family history changes.
  • Bone density surveillance – some cancer treatments can worsen bone health. It may be important that bone density scans are arranged either by Open Access practitioners or your GP. You will be notified if this is important for you at the end of treatment.
  • We have database managers to ensure you don’t get ‘lost to follow up’.
  • At the end of Open Access follow-up, you will enter or return to the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

Further information about this is in our ‘Open Access follow-up treatment for breast cancer' booklet.