Most people diagnosed with breast cancer need surgery as part of their treatment plan. Breast cancer surgeons are often the first specialists you will meet after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Meeting with your breast cancer surgeon for the first time can be overwhelming — especially when you are faced with a new diagnosis. Being prepared can help.
At the Breast Health Center at Loma Linda University Cancer Center, we believe it’s important to feel that you can trust your breast cancer surgeon and be able to talk freely together. Having good communication helps you know what to expect from treatment and feel more at ease. Bringing a loved one to the appointment or dialed in over the phone for support can help. So can writing down any questions you have ahead of time. Below are five questions to ask your breast cancer surgeon at the beginning of your treatment journey.
When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, things can move fast. But it’s important that your breast cancer surgeon takes time to fully explain your diagnosis. Your surgeon may discuss your type of breast cancer, the location and size of your tumor, your grade of cancer — which can show how fast it may be growing, the stage of your cancer and more. Your breast cancer surgeon may also tell you whether additional tests are necessary to learn more about your specific type of cancer.
The Breast Health Center is focused on keeping you informed. In addition to talking with your breast cancer surgeon, you will be connected with a patient navigator, a registered nurse trained in oncology care. Your navigator will guide and support you through each step of your care, providing patient education and ensuring all your questions are answered.
When we receive a referral, you will be connected to an patient navigator who will help you with scheduling, questions, insurance and obtaining records.
When it comes to breast cancer, each patient’s treatment plan and response to treatment is unique. Your breast cancer surgeon can tell you what potential side effects of treatment you may experience. Knowing what to expect before treatment is empowering.
In order to make informed decisions, it’s important to understand all your treatment options and the positives and negatives of each. Ask your breast cancer surgeon what treatment he or she recommends for you and why. You should also discuss how specific treatment options may affect other therapies you might need, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Breast cancer surgeons at the Breast Health Center provide a number of cutting-edge surgical options for patients such as minimally invasive breast surgery, breast conserving surgery, oncoplastic surgery, nipple sparing mastectomy, breast reconstruction, and more. Talk to your breast cancer surgeon about these procedures and see you might be a candidate.
Not all women who have breast cancer need genetic counseling and testing, but depending on your age, medical history and family history of disease, your breast cancer surgeon may recommend genetic testing or for you to talk with a genetic counselor. Keep in mind that the majority of breast cancers are not due to an inherited genetic mutation. However, if your cancer is one of the 5 to 10% of breast cancers that is, knowing this information can change the direction of your treatment plan.
The Breast Health Center offers genetic counseling and testing services for appropriate patients. Talk to your breast cancer surgeon if it’s right for you.
When it comes to breast cancer, each patient’s treatment plan and response to treatment is unique. Your breast cancer surgeon can tell you what potential side effects of treatment you may experience. Knowing what to expect before treatment is empowering. The more information you have in advance, the better you can plan. Ask your breast cancer surgeon about the expected length of your hospital stay, possible side effects of treatment and warning signs of problems you should watch for.
Keep in mind, the Breast Health Center offers help in managing the side effects of cancer treatment. Your breast cancer surgeon or patient navigator can help connect you with these experts. This may include specially trained physical therapists, pain management physicians and others.
Breast cancer is not just a medical issue that is resolved after surgery. It can affect you physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Don’t take on the challenges alone. Ask your breast cancer surgeon what support services are available to give you the extra care you need.
As part of our focus on the whole patient, the Breast Health Center offers a wide range of support services — from pastoral care and nutritional counseling to psychosocial assistance and support groups. Our dedicated nurse navigators help guide patients and their families through treatment and recovery. And our team of experts provide support in managing side effects following treatment.
Patient navigators are registered nurses trained in oncology care to guide you through the challenges of dealing with cancer. They are here to support you as you go through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Contact the Patient Navigator team at 800-782-2623.
Breast cancer surgery, and treatment in general is an incredibly personal journey. Sometimes even the “best” breast cancer surgeon in the whole country isn’t the right one for you. Asking questions helps you find a surgeon who makes you feel comfortable, supports your decisions, advocates for your health, and is open with you about options.
Use these questions listed above to help guide your journey of finding the right breast cancer surgeon for your personal journey.