Living with Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a complex disease that can deeply impact your physical and emotional well-being. Advanced treatment and early detection have made significant strides in survival rates; however, the initial diagnosis, surgical, and treatment process still can feel overwhelming for women and their families.

Dr. Anees Chagpar and her core team of surgical oncologists from the Yale School of Medicine Department of Surgery offer individualized attention while providing heartfelt, compassionate care to help you through this most difficult time. You will receive the most comprehensive treatment available, from initial testing and diagnosis, through the entire surgical process and treatment, to post-cancer follow-up.

Because our surgeons treat patients at the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven, our patients have access to a multitude of medical, complementary, and supportive services to help improve their quality of life while living with breast cancer, and after.

Some of the supportive services at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven include the Survivorship Clinic, complementary and holistic therapies, the Patient and Family Resource Center, and The Boutique.

Survivorship Clinic:

The wonderful thing about breast cancer is that women tend to live long, healthy, and productive lives after diagnosis and treatment. The Survivorship Clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven is a comprehensive resource where you can see a team of experts, which includes a nurse practitioner, a dietician, a physical therapist, and a social worker. They can provide you with a customized treatment plan and resources you need as you celebrate your continued survivorship. The goal of the clinic is to help empower you to live your best life cancer free.

In addition to providing the most advanced diagnostic and medical treatments available, The Survivorship Clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven offers all the support and resources you need to help you get through cancer and to help you remain cancer free. 

Complementary/Holistic Therapy:

Having cancer affects your overall physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Feeling balanced and centered can help you better manage your physical response and overall outlook during cancer treatment. For this reason, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven offers complementary services, such as therapeutic massage, guided imagery, art expression, Reiki touch therapy, and yoga.

The Patient and Family Resource Center

You will be provided with comprehensive materials designed to educate you on the road ahead. And because family and loved ones are also affected and are often intricately involved in the treatment process, they, too, have access to a wide array of educational resources. Resource providers include the American Cancer Society and Komen Connecticut.

In addition to print materials and resources, The Patient and Family Resource Center is equipped with internet computers allowing you access to even more information.

The Boutique

Feeling comfortable with your appearance during and following treatment can help you feel better and more confident. The Boutique is available to help you with the side effects of healing by offering products, services, personal advice, and assistance from a specially trained and caring staff.

Learn more about The Boutique at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven.

Stay Healthy/Prevention:

Although we cannot control all risk factors, nor do we completely understand what causes breast cancer, we can try to reduce our chance of getting cancer. The American Cancer Society has published specific guidelines to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. In addition to adapting a healthier lifestyle, consistent screening is crucial to your breast health. 

The Breast Center is here to help you maintain total breast health throughout your life by offering mammograms and sophisticated imaging technologies. It is important to receive a mammogram every year after the age of 40. We boast some of the finest radiologists in the country who are experts in our state-of-the-art care technology. They can guide you through any follow-up procedures including ultrasounds, MRI, or biopsy to ensure you are receiving a comprehensive evaluation and care.


One of the strongest fears for most cancer survivors is that their cancer may return. Recurrent breast cancer is cancer that has come back despite treatment. If you develop cancer in the other breast, this is not recurrent cancer. It will be treated as a new cancer.

If the breast cancer has returned in the same site as the original tumor, it is called a local recurrence. This usually means that some cancer cells survived the first treatment and have grown into breast cancer. The tumor will need to be removed, and if you did not receive radiation therapy the first time, you may need to now.

Distant recurrence means that the breast cancer has traveled to other parts of the body such as the bones, liver, or lungs. This is called metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer.

Recurrent breast cancer can occur years after the original cancer. Signs and symptoms depend on where the cancer returns. A woman may feel a new lump or thickening on the chest; shortness of breath, bone pain, headaches, or abdominal discomfort may be other warning signs of metastasis. Once you have been treated for breast cancer, you should continue to see your doctor regularly to check for signs of recurrence.

At The Breast Center, you will receive care from some of the top surgeons and specialists in the world. We care deeply about your immediate and future emotional and physical well-being, especially as they relate to the unique situation of recurrent breast cancer.

Contact Us

The Breast Center -- Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven

New Haven, CT 06510

T 203.200.2328

41.3056 -72.93602