Breast Cancer Survivorship in Veterans

Sarah V. Colonna, MD, MSCI; Sarah Collins, RN, MSN


August 01, 2023

In Collaboration With

The Veterans Health Administration exceeds the private sector in mammography screening rates, but each year, an estimated 700 female veterans are diagnosed with breast cancer.

In this discussion, produced in partnership with the Association of Veterans Affairs Hematology/Oncology (AVAHO), breast cancer oncologist Dr Sarah Colonna from the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and nurse practitioner Sarah Collins from the VA Durham Health Care System in North Carolina, discuss the critical transition from active cancer treatment to long-term medical and psychosocial care for survivors.

The experts emphasize the importance of effectively communicating "road maps" detailing steps in treatment to help patients establish realistic expectations. They also address physical and emotional challenges faced by patients, such as grief over postsurgical body changes, long-term effects of endocrine therapy to prevent disease recurrence, and the special concerns of subgroups of breast cancer survivors, including male veterans.

They also discuss survivorship issues specific to veterans who often experience posttraumatic stress disorder and emotional withdrawal. The clinicians share strategies implemented within their own clinics and VA-wide support programs.

This program was created in collaboration with the Association of VA Hematology/Oncology (AVAHO) and does not represent the opinions of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.


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