Your breast surgeon guides your cancer care.
This consultation is the start of your breast cancer treatment journey. Your breast surgeon sets the initial direction your cancer care. It is essential to be well prepared for this meeting. The issues discussed should be more about your overall cancer care rather than about a surgical procedure. You must be engaged with the key topics outlined in our “Breast Surgery Video Course” (here). We created the Breast Cancer School for Patients to prepare you to ask for the very best breast cancer care in your community.
Learn everything about your breast cancer.
Your breast surgeon is the first person to teach you about your unique breast cancer. You should ask about the potential threat to your life (usually less than you think) and the treatment options ahead. When you are well informed, you will make better treatment decisions with your breast cancer specialists. Your breast surgeon is your initial source for this information.
Watch our video lessons and read the attached information to learn what you need to know about your breast cancer. Use our “Questions” in each lesson to engage your breast cancer specialists in their language to get the information you need to know.
Discuss your surgical options.
Breast surgeons have a broad knowledge base about chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy. They will formulate the initial direction of your cancer treatment plan. Breast cancer surgery is just one component of the comprehensive treatment plan they will design for you.
Surgery is usually the first treatment step in early stage breast cancer. You will discuss the surgical options that are appropriate for your situation. The decision to have a “lumpectomy” or a “mastectomy” requires input from your breast surgeon and a discussion about your personal desires. Make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision. You have time to think about your options and can return to discuss them again with your breast surgeon when needed.
Sometimes chemotherapy is the best first step in treating a breast cancer. In this situation, you will have months to contemplate your surgical options while undergoing chemotherapy before surgery. In general, time is usually on your side in making surgical decisions.
Does your surgeon work with a “Multidisciplinary Team?”
Ask your breast surgeon if he or she works with an accredited breast center team. If your breast surgeon presents your cancer situation to a team of physicians at a “Multidisciplinary Breast Conference” you may benefit from new ideas and cutting-edge treatment advances. Some patients have very complicated cancer situations that require this “team approach” to determine a tailored, personalized solution. These brainstorming sessions focusing on you can expand your treatment options and improve your outcome. This “team” concept is the foundation of “NAPBC Accredited Breast Centers” and learn more about “NAPBC Breast Centers“ with our video lesson (here).
Many smaller and rural communities do not yet have breast centers, but you can still receive excellent care if there is not one near your home. If there is a breast center in your community and your breast surgeon does not participate, it is important to ask them, “Why do you not participate?” Breast cancer physicians that work as a team may offer you distinct benefits.
What “cutting edge” treatment options should I ask about?
Recent advancements in breast cancer care are sometimes overlooked. The overarching goal of cutting edge research is to improve outcomes and lessen side effects of treating cancer. You must learn about these advances and specifically ask your breast surgeon if they are appropriate for your breast cancer situation. Our short video lessons in this “Breast Surgery Course” will teach you how to bring these options into your discussions. Take our lessons on:
- Breast MRI
- Axillary ultrasound
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
- Oncoplastic surgery
- Genetic and Genomic testing
- Brachytherapy radiation
There are many options that can improve outcomes. Ask your doctor if you qualify for any of these advances. By doing so, you and your breast surgeon will develop a treatment plan that’s best for you.
Register for our newsletter and “Cutting-Edge” questions
Sign-up for our “Breast Health Updates & Latest Videos“ (here). Once registered, we’ll immediately email you our complete list of “Cutting Edge” questions for your breast surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. We help you get quality breast cancer care in your community.