Three primary specialists are involved in treating breast cancer:
- A medical oncologist, or cancer specialist, who will help develop the treatment plan and oversee chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
- A radiation oncologist, who will oversee radiation treatment, if it is required.
- A surgical oncologist, who will perform the surgeries that remove cancerous tissue or entire breasts.
Before meeting with these specialists, make a list of questions you want to ask. Take a notebook or a tape recorder to the meeting. Many women find it helpful to have a friend or family member with them at the meeting to help remember the questions that need to be asked and the answers the doctor provides. If English is not your primary language, take someone with you who can help translate as needed.
Be sure that you understand the diagnosis and all treatment options before leaving the doctor's office. Remember, you do not have to make a decision immediately, but you should get as much information as possible.
Here are some general questions you will probably want to ask each specialist about their recommendations:
- What is your certification and experience?
- Why are you recommending this therapy or procedure?
- What is the goal of this treatment?
- What are the alternatives to this treatment?
- What are the risks?
- What are the benefits, and how well do they balance out the risks?
- Where will I need to go for the therapy or procedure?
- How do I prepare for the treatment?
- Will I need to change any aspect of my lifestyle (such as diet, exercise or other habits) during or after this treatment?
- What kind of follow up procedures will be needed?