Every woman who already had breast cancer once always stays in the terror of its recurrence. However, the fact is that in all cases breast cancer does not recur, but in some it does. Breast cancer can recur at any time gap, but majority of the recurrences happen within the first 5 years after the patient has undergone a breast cancer treatment.

The recurrence of breast cancer can be stated as local recurrence (this indicates the occurrence in the treated breast or may be near the scar of mastectomy) or in some other region in the body. The most common locations where breast cancer can recur outside the breast are the bones, liver, lymph nodes, lungs, and brain.

recurrence of breast cancer

Symptoms of Recurrence of Breast Cancer

Breast changes that might indicate a recurrence of breast cancer include the following:

  • A thickened lump within or near the breast; sometimes it can also be in the underarm that stay for months even after your period is over.
  • If your breast shows abnormal changes in terms of size, shape or contour, it might be an indication for breast cancer.
  • A marble-like hardened area under the skin, especially on or around breasts.
  • If the feel or appearance of the skinon the breast or nipple changes suddenly.
  • If the skin around the nipple gets dimpled, scaly, puckered, red, warm, or swollen
  • Bloody or clear liquid discharge from nipples

Risk Factors for a Breast Cancer Recurrence

These factors may affect the chance of your breast cancer recurring –

Tumor size

The larger the size of tumor was, the greater is the chance of recurrence.


If your breast cancer had affected and spread even to your lymph nodes, it increases the chances of recurrence. The more lymph nodes affected, the higher are the chances of recurrence.

Hormone receptors

Almost two-third cases of all breast cancers have receptors forestrogen (called ER+) or progesterone (PR+) or sometimes both types are present; these increases the chance of recurrence.


This gene is sometimes present even after breast cancer treatment is over and can trigger the growth of cancer cells.

Nuclear grade

This grade defines the rate at which cancer cells in the tumor divides and forms more cells. The cancerous cells higher in count under nuclear grade have more chances of recurrence.


The type of treatment decided for local breast cancer recurrences solely depends on the type of treatment that was given earlier. If it was a lumpectomy, the next treatment for local recurrence will be treated with a mastectomy. If earlier the method was mastectomy, the recurrence might have occurred near the mastectomy site and will be treated by removing the tumor if possible by radiation.

Some more options for treatment are chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation after surgery. If the cancer recurs in other parts of the body, like liver, lungs, bones, or brain, you would need a surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination.

If you’ve been treated for breast cancer, keep doing breast self-exams, check and examine the treated area each month and do regular mammograms.