Access to books, pamphlets and other sites which will help you get back to normal.
Read stories about how other women got back to a normal life.
Survival data
View survival data on breast cancer on the AIHW site.



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Life after breast cancer

Key Points

  • You will have some swelling in your breast, side and underarm. Any swelling or tenderness from the operation or redness from radiation treatment will disappear over time
  • You will not be able to move your arm much for a while. The breast muscles will feel tight.
  • It will take a while for the effects of the anaesthetic to wear off.
  • When you look at the scar on your breast you will see a thin line of stitches. These will dissolve. Eventually you should just have a thin line stretching the length of the area operated on. Where you have had lymph nodes removed you will have a scar in your armpit, or your scar will extend under your armpit. Any swelling or discolouring of the scar should fade in time.
  • Your breast may feel more uncomfortable than usual just before your period for a while
  • You may feel shooting pains through your breast at times
  • Some people have persistent pain from the operation which does not go away
  • You should ask your doctor about how often you will need to follow up and with whom and also ask whether you need any more tests (follow up)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is the clearing house for all cancer statistics in Australia. The AIHW has published survival data for the period 1982-1994 drawing on information from state cancer registries.

Some Thoughts- a New Life

Many women say that being diagnosed with cancer has changed their life. Having breast cancer can give you a dose of reality and put things into perspective. When you are faced with the possibility of dying, things that seemed important can suddenly seem pretty insignificant.

Some women make major changes to their lives after a cancer diagnosis. They may throw themselves into understanding the disease and looking for cures. They may become a big part of the cancer support network, helping other women.

Other women just want to get on with their life. They accept that they have had cancer, but don't want to dwell on it. For these women it is important to understand the impact of cancer on their lifestyle and work out what surgery and treatment they want based on this. Even if you are used to being busy, it is often a good idea to start to take some time out to relax.

Some other women move forward with their life but make quite a few changes.

You may find that once you have worked through your feelings you want to make changes to your life. What you did before may not seem so important. Cancer can help give you permission to do things you felt you could or should not do before. You may start to feel empowered.

Learn more about
  • Lifestyle and Well-being
  • An Action Plan for Recovery
  • Getting your Arm Mobile
  • Follow up
  • Managing Lymphoedema
  • Use of Prostheses
  • Breast Reconstruction
  • Feelings

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