What To Ask Your Doctor

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If you have received a positive or possible diagnosis of breast cancer, there are a number of questions that you should ask your doctor. The answers you receive to these questions should give you a better understanding of your specific diagnosis and the corresponding treatment.

In addition, your doctor’s ability to address your questions will give you some assessment as to the quality of care to be provided.

Early detection

  1. What is my risk of breast cancer?
  2. How often should I perform breast self-examinations? What exactly am I looking for?
  3. How often should I have a mammogram? Are there any other

Diagnosis

  1. What type of breast cancer do I have? How many tumors do I have, and how large are they?
  2. What is the stage of my breast cancer?
  3. Has my breast cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other areas of my body?
  4. Have my slides been reviewed by more than one pathologist?
  5. Can I have my biopsy reviewed by a pathologist at another diagnostic center?
  6. Is my family history relevant to my diagnosis?
  7. What other studies should be done on my tissue biopsy?

Treatment

  1. What are the best treatment options for my cancer?
  2. What are the more and less aggressive treatment options available?
  3. If I need surgery, will I need a mastectomy or lumpectomy?
  4. What are the risks and benefits of immediate breast reconstruction?
  5. Will I need radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or both? If so, will I start before or after my surgery?
  6. What will the schedule be for my radiation and/or chemotherapy?
  7. What side effects can I expect from my treatment?
  8. Will hormone therapy help me?
  9. How urgent is it that I make decisions and begin treatment?
  10. Are there controversies in the recommended treatments among reputable experts?
  11. How might my treatment affect future risks and follow-up treatment?
  12. Should I stop taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
  13. What are the chances of my cancer returning after treatment?

Other relevant questions

  1. Am I at higher risk for other cancers as a result of the breast cancer or breast cancer treatments?
  2. Are there any changes I should make in my lifestyle to help prevent a recurrence of the cancer?
  3. How will treatment affect my fertility? What if I want to have children after my treatment?
  4. How does having reached (or not) reached menopause affect my treatment?
  5. What is my overall chance of survival based on my breast cancer?
  6. Should I undergo any genetic testing since/if I have daughters?
  7. Can you recommend some support groups?

Know the disease!

It’s important for you to have a good understanding of how your breast cancer is diagnosed and for you to be able to talk openly with your doctor about your test results. Just remember to have all your questions ready!