What is a recurrence?
A recurrence is when breast cancer returns after you have completed treatment for your initial diagnosis of breast cancer. This can happen within a relatively short period of time after treatment, many years later or never. There are three types of breast cancer recurrence:
- Local recurrence: This is when the breast cancer tumor cells grow back in the original site (or breast). If a mastectomy has been performed, this may mean that the cells grow back in the chest wall skin or nearby tissue.
- Regional recurrence: This is when the breast cancer has spread outside the breast and axillary (underarm) lymph nodes, such as in the pectoral (chest) muscles, internal mammary lymph nodes under the breast bone and between the ribs, in the supraclavicular nodes (above the collarbone) or in the nodes surrounding the neck.
- Distant recurrence: (or metastasis) This is when the breast cancer has spread through the lymph system or bloodstream to other sites in the body such as the bone, lungs, liver, brain or other organs.