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What Questions To Ask When Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Will I Need Surgery And What Kind Should I Have

Questions to ask after Breast Cancer Diagnosis

This is an important question but the answer may be less than definitive. It will vary from patient to patient and you may have more than one choice.

According to the American Cancer Society, most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. But some breast cancers cant initially be surgically removed. In other cases, whether to operate and the type of surgery may depend on the cancers stage, the tumors size and location, the size of your breast and your personal preference.

In women whose breast cancers are operable, the choices are breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy. Mastectomy is the removal of most or all breast tissue and possibly nearby lymph nodes. Within each of those two broad categories are further options. Talk with your oncologist and breast surgeon. If you have any doubts, you may choose to seek a second opinion.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor About The Oncotype Dx Breast Cancer Test

The Oncotype DX test is a genomic test that may help guide treatment decisions for patients with non-invasive breast cancer, often referred to as ductal carcinoma in situ , and help early-stage invasive breast cancer patients with estrogen receptor-positive disease evaluate if they will benefit from chemotherapy. The decision whether or not to order the Oncotype DX test is one that you and your doctor should make together.

Is My Cancer Invasive Or Noninvasive

A tumor is an abnormal growth that may be benign or malignant. Benign breast tumors are not life-threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant breast tumors are cancers that impact your health and may spread to other parts of the body. A malignant tumor that grows into surrounding tissue is considered invasive. Invasive tumors are more likely to spread to other parts of the body than non-invasive tumors. Non-invasive breast cancer cells remain in a particular area of the breast without spreading to surrounding tissue, lobules or ducts.

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Getting Second Opinion On Breast Cancer Is Recommended

As mentioned above, breast cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer from which women suffer. However, in many cases, it has been seen that the problem has not been diagnosed properly and led to complications later. Even if you ask an oncologist online and start a treatment, it is always good if you go for a second opinion just to be sure that the treatment you are getting is the right one.For many patients, there is confusion whether surgery is needed or not as part of the treatment plan. In such cases second and sometimes third opinions can be really useful for clearing the doubt from the mind. Ask the vital questions about breast cancer even when you seek online medical second opinion and get proper answers before starting to get ready mentally for the surgery for breast cancer treatment.

How Urgent Is It That I Make Decisions And Begin Breast Cancer Treatment

What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with ...

It is extremely rare that a patient must be rushed into treatment. The biology of breast tumors is established fairly early in their development, and by the time the tumors are detectable, most have been growing undetected for considerably more than a year. This means that if you take a few weeks to complete a thorough evaluation, obtain appropriate consultations, understand the situation, discuss the alternatives, and initiate a treatment plan, it is not likely to add any significant risk. This time frame, however, should allow the facts of your case to be carefully sorted out and errors to be minimized. Your treatment team should be able to help you in this process and specifically advise you on the urgency to start certain treatments.

Are there controversies in the recommended treatments among reputable experts?

Doctors may differ in their recommendations if they weigh the risks differently. There will always be uncertainties in any given case. These issues are rarely “right versus wrong.” They can be compared with decisions such as, “How do I balance my desire to have the largest and safest care with the need to have convenience and economy?” There are tradeoffs. For example, certain breast cancer treatment options may favor cosmetic appearance but slightly increase the risk of recurrence in the affected breast. If you have concerns, a second opinion by a different treatment team can often be helpful. A good treatment team will help the patient make informed decisions.

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Questions About Clinical Trials

During the course of your treatment you may be asked if you would like to take part in a clinical trial. Questions to ask include:

  • Are there any suitable clinical trials available?
  • What would I have to do as part of the clinical trial?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • What are the benefits and risks for me?
  • Do I have the right to refuse?
  • Can I withdraw from the clinical trial at any time?
  • Are these studies important for me or others?

What Is My Estrogen Receptor And Progesterone Receptor Status

Your bodys hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may play a role in how your breast cancer progresses.

Normal cells are equipped with receptors that allow them to receive information from circulating hormones, similar to the way your phone picks up satellite signals. Cancer cells may also have hormone receptors, letting them tap into your bodys normal cell growth-regulating system.

Your ER/PR status is determined by testing a sample of breast cancer cells removed during a biopsy. If your breast cancer cells have estrogen and progesterone receptors if theyre ER/PR-positive then theyre capable of detecting estrogens signal and using it to fuel growth. If the cancer cells lack these receptors meaning theyre ER-/PR-negative they cant hear the growth-signaling message.

About 70% of breast cancer patients have positive ER/PR hormone status.

While being ER/PR-positive sounds bad, theres actually a benefit. Doctors can take advantage of the receptors presence. They can use an anti-estrogen drug that blocks the receptors and blocks estrogens growth signal. Or they can use other drugs like aromatase inhibitors that lower your bodys estrogen levels to deprive the cancer cells of fuel.

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Questions To Ask The Cancer Surgeon

  • Why are you recommending this procedure? Are there other options?
  • What are the risks? How do they compare with the benefits?
  • How do I get ready for surgery?
  • What type of anesthesia will I have?
  • What happens during and right after surgery?
  • Who do I talk to about breast reconstruction?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the potential complications of surgery?
  • When can I go back to work and resume normal activities?
  • What is lymphedema, and am I at risk?
  • Before surgery, your surgeon should give you:

    • Specific instructions to follow in the days before surgery
    • An overview of the surgical procedures
    • Information about recovery and follow-up care

    After surgery, call your doctor right away if you see signs of swelling, a buildup of fluid, redness, or other symptoms of infection.

    Imaging Tests And Type Of Breast Cancer

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Breast Cancer

    If a patient has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important for the individual to find out whether other imaging tests will be needed. The tests may help determine whether or not the tumor has spread to lymph nodes or other body parts. A patient should ask the doctor, based on the biopsy, about the subtype of breast cancer and where it is located in the breast. The doctor should also let the patient know about the treatment plan.

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    What To Ask Your Oncologist

    If youre not sure what you should ask your breast cancer specialist, the following questions can help you get a conversation started:

    • What kind of breast cancer do I have?
    • What is the prognosis for this type of breast cancer?
    • Has my cancer spread outside of my breast? What is its stage?
    • What are the different treatment options and which would you recommend?
    • Are there any advantages to scheduling my treatments in a specific order?
    • What other specialists should I consult with during treatment?
    • Would genetic testing be beneficial for me?
    • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make to get ready for treatment?
    • Will treatment hurt? Will I experience changes in my sexual health?
    • What sort of side effects might I experience and how will they impact my day-to-day life? Are there ways to manage them?
    • Are there any limitations on what I should do during treatment?
    • How will we know if my treatment is working?
    • What sort of testing will I need after my treatment is complete?
    • How will we know if the cancer comes back? What is our plan if this happens?
    • Should I think about enrolling in a clinical trial? Are there any current trials that are open to patients with my specific diagnosis?

    What Is A Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy And What Are Its Benefits And Risks

    A sentinel node biopsy takes advantage of a peculiar physiologic and anatomical finding. Although there may be many lymph nodes in a particular drainage region, it appears that only one or two are the first recipients of the regional fluids.

    This means that if any nodes will be involved by tumor spread, the sentinel node will be the first. It also means in general that if the sentinel node is not involved, then no other nodes will be affected. Therefore, only the sentinel node needs to be removed. There are techniques for removing just the sentinel nodes. A sentinel node biopsy allows the pathologist to more intensively study this node and apply specialized techniques that are capable of detecting even a few cancer cells.

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    Questions For Patients With Early

    • What stage is my breast cancer and what are the chances of my cancer coming back after surgery?
    • Is my breast cancer hormone receptor positive ?
    • What are my treatment options? What do you suggest for me and why?
    • What are the benefits of each treatment option? What are the drawbacks/side effects of each one?
    • How long do side effects of each treatment option last? Do they go away once treatment is complete?
    • Is it OK to wait a few weeks to consider my treatment plan options before I have to make a decision about treatment?
    • Am I a candidate for the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test?
    • If I am a candidate for the Oncotype DX test, how could we use the test results to develop my treatment plan?
    • How can I get a copy of my pathology report and my Oncotype DX results ?

    The information presented on this site is intended to provide patients with newly diagnosed invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer medically known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ , as well as their friends and family, an opportunity to hear how others have incorporated the information provided by the Oncotype DX® tests in making treatment decisions with their doctors. The personal stories featured on this site selected by Exact Sciences, which offers the Oncotype DX tests, are not intended to be representative of patients with breast cancer generally, and should not be considered medical advice. Patients should consult their doctor to determine the best treatment decision for their individual disease.

    Talking To Your Doctor Or Nurse

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    To get the most out of your visit you might consider:

    • requesting a longer appointment if you have a number of issues to discuss
    • preparing your questions beforehand
    • taking a friend or relative for support, or writing down answers to your questions if possible
    • asking your doctor to explain again, if you don’t understand the answers
    • asking your doctor to give you a written summary of your treatment plan
    • asking for an interpreter if you have difficulty communicating in English

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    What Are The Different Options For Surgery

    Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Procedures may include:

    • Mastectomy: This surgery removes one or both breasts, including the breast tissue, nipple, areola and skin.
    • Lumpectomy: Also known as breast-conserving surgery, this operation removes only the cancerous breast tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. A lumpectomy is not an option for every breast cancer patient.
    • Sentinel node biopsy: This is the removal of one or a few of the first draining lymph nodes to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.
    • Oncoplastic and breast reconstruction surgery: This reconstructive technique reshapes the breast and also may be used to prevent scarring and deformation of the breast.

    Questions To Ask When Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

    • Breast Cancer
    • 10 Questions to Ask When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

    Once diagnosed with breast cancer, youll likely have many questions about your diagnosis, treatment and recovery. To get the conversation started, below are 10 questions to ask your care team.

  • What kind of breast cancer do I have and at what stage?
  • Has cancer spread to my lymph nodes?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • Who will be a part of my cancer care team and what does each person do?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Are there more tests and procedures needed to determine my treatment plan?
  • What is the goal of my treatment?
  • What can I do myself to get ready for treatment?
  • Can I get a second opinion?
  • Who can I go to for support?
  • Answers to these questions will help you prepare for your treatment and recovery. And there are sure to be many questions along the way. Keep a list and the lines of communication open with your care team. They are here to help with your questions and concerns both large and small.

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    When You Feel You Need More Information

    Following a cancer diagnosis of cancer, you and your family are likely to have many questions.

    When cancer is diagnosed you enter into a partnership with your doctor and other health care professionals. To help you get the best care you have the right to:

    • ask questions
    • be specifically informed about the details of your care
    • make an informed choice of treatment from the options available to you.

    It is important to ask questions, especially if you are unsure or unclear and feel you need more information.

    Encourage your family to do the same. It is up to you how involved you want to be in making decisions about your treatment. This may change over time, so keep your doctor informed about your preferences.

    For more information on your rights watch the video below on the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights.

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Breast Cancer

    Chemotherapy Questions For Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patients

    Its important to be able to have frank, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions so that you can make informed treatment and life decisions.

    Here are some questions that you can use to help better understand your cancer and your treatment options. Dont be afraid to take notes and tell the doctors or nurses when you dont understand what theyre saying. You might want to bring another person with you when you see your doctor and have them take notes to help you remember what was said.

    Not all of these questions will apply to you, but they should help get you started. Be sure to write down some questions of your own. For instance, you might want more information about recovery times or you may want to ask about nearby or online support groups where you can talk with other women going through similar situations. You may also want to ask if you qualify for any clinical trials.

    Keep in mind that doctors arent the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

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    Even Though My Breast Tumor Does Not Have Hormone Receptors Should I Take Tamoxifen To Reduce The Risk Of A New Tumor

    Following completion of your treatment for breast cancer, whether or not tamoxifen is prescribed should at least be addressed. In many cases, the primary breast cancer for which the patient is being treated may not be hormone-receptor positive. In these cases, tamoxifen is not generally part of the treatment protocol.

    However, the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial demonstrated a significant reduction in the development of new cancers in the opposite breast in patients who were treated with tamoxifen. So, the possible use and benefits of tamoxifen should not be ignored. A thoughtful evaluation of all the factors in a particular case will lead to a recommendation which balances the benefits of tamoxifen against the potential risks. Your treatment team should address this issue with you.

    Here Is A List Of Questions That You May Want To Ask Your Health Care Team:

    Since Ive been diagnosed, Ive been overwhelmed. How can I better cope with my diagnosis? A cancer diagnosis turns a persons world upside down emotionally and physically. Your team of doctors, nurses and social workers are valuable sources of support as you cope with a cancer diagnosis. Oncology social workers are licensed professionals who counsel people affected by cancer, providing emotional support and helping people access practical assistance. CancerCares oncology social workers provide individual counseling, support groups and locate services face-to-face, online or on the telephone, free of charge. To learn more, visit www.cancercare.org or call 800-813-HOPE .

    Is my tumor invasive or noninvasive? Invasive breast tumors are tumors that have started growing into nearby healthy breast tissues. Noninvasive, or in situ tumors, are confined to the milk ducts this is the earliest stage of breast cancer. As is true for most cancers, breast cancer in the earliest stage usually has the best chance of being effectively managed.

    What stage is my tumor? A tumors stage refers to its size and extent of spread in the bodye.g., whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. Cancer confined to the breast may be called localized cancer. Cancer that has spread to other organs is called metastatic cancer. A cancers stage is often denoted by a Roman numeral . The higher the numeral, the more the cancer has spread within the body.

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