According to statistics from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there are approximately 29 million cancer survivors worldwide as of 2008 . In the United States, there are an estimated 14 million cancer survivors as of 2012, a figure that is expected to increase to approximately 18 million in the next 10 years . Nearly three million women have a history of breast cancer and constitute over 40 percent of female cancer survivors . Although the vast majority of breast cancer survivors are women, approximately 2000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the United States alone, and most will achieve long-term disease-free survival . (See "Breast cancer in men".)
Patients who are living for decades beyond cancer experience the normal issues of aging, which are often compounded by the long-term effects of having had cancer and cancer therapy. These patients are at risk for a breast cancer recurrence (which is most common in the first five years but may occur even decades following treatment), a new primary breast cancer, other cancers, and short-term and long-term adverse effects of treatment. Additional issues for cancer survivors relate to psychological, genetic, reproductive, social, and employment concerns.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of clear evidence for what constitutes best practices in caring for patients with a history of cancer, and this contributes to wide variation in care . Recommendations for posttreatment surveillance after primary therapy of breast cancer will be reviewed here. A detailed discussion of the patterns of relapse (ie, locoregional recurrence, second primary breast tumor, metastatic disease) and long-term complications of breast cancer therapy are presented separately. (See "Patterns of relapse and long-term complications of therapy in breast cancer survivors".)
A general overview of cancer survivorship is covered separately. (See "Overview of cancer survivorship care for primary care and oncology providers".)
DEFINING A CANCER SURVIVOR
There are many definitions and phases of cancer survivorship. We define a cancer survivor as any person with cancer, starting from the moment of diagnosis. This is consistent with definitions from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship  and the National Cancer Institute .