Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis shakes your entire world and rearranges everything you believed was set. The shock that comes after a diagnosis takes time to overcome; you’ll also need time to process all of the information that comes with an initial diagnosis.
At first, everything that you’re told may seem jumbled or like a complete blur, which can be stressful when you’re trying to stay informed and make the right choice for you and your family. Take some time to yourself and then go back to your doctor with loads of questions. If you’re not sure what to ask, here are 10 questions we believe would be most helpful after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Questions To Ask After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
1. What type of breast cancer do I have?
There are several different kinds of breast cancer, as determined by their location, invasiveness, and other factors. For example, breast cancer can begin in the lobules, ducts, or in some cases in the tissue between these. Breast cancer can also be non-invasive, invasive, or metastatic.
2. What is the stage of my breast cancer? What does that mean?
Breast cancer stages are classified by numbers, beginning at zero and ending in four. Stages 1 and 2 are considered early stage breast cancer, while the most advanced type is Stage 4, which is also considered “metastatic,” meaning that the cancer has spread beyond the area of the body in which it originated. Knowing your stage can give you an idea of the status of your cancer, as well as your prognosis, and it can make your treatment option more understandable.
3. Were any tests done on my tumor? If so, how do the results affect my treatment options?
Before determining which course of treatment to take, your doctor may recommend more testing to determine the tumor’s characteristics in order to determine how to fight it. This test may include a biopsy or a hormone receptor status test.
4. What are my treatment options?
Treatment options may include radiation, chemotherapy, a combination of both, or another treatment. You may also want to ask about how the treatments are conducted, and what the medical devices used will be.
5. How soon will the treatment start? How long will the treatment last? And what should I do to prepare for treatment?
Cancer treatment will alter the way you do many things, including how you go about your day. Having time to prepare for your treatment before it begins and knowing how long it will last can help you plan ahead. For example, you may want to have a designated driver to take you to treatment sessions or ask your job if you can work from home.
6. What are the risks and side effects to the treatment options? How can I reduce these?
Breast cancer treatment side effects can be tough and difficult to deal with, but knowing what to expect can help you be prepared for when they begin. You may also want to ask about ways in which to manage these side effects and symptoms.
7. What are the pros and cons of breast-conserving surgery versus mastectomy?
If your doctor is considering surgery as a treatment option, you will probably want to ask about the benefits of surgery, versus the risks.
8. How can I get a copy of my pathology report?
Your pathology report includes all of the fine print detail about you and your cancer. This document is very important to have in your personal possession and it can help you if you intend to get a second opinion, find a treatment center, or move away. In any case, it’s simply good to have on file.
9. What is my prognosis?
A prognosis is a rough estimate of your chances of recovery from breast cancer. Due to a large accumulation of data based on cancer types, stages, and treatments, your doctor can probably give you a percentage of your likelihood of recovery.
10. What are the chances that my cancer will come back or that I will develop a different type of cancer?
We all know a story of someone whose cancer returned, or who developed a different kind of cancer elsewhere. That is because cancer and cancer treatments are, unfortunately, also a risk factor for cancer. Simply put, if you have or have had cancer, your chances of getting cancer again increases. Sometimes this information is helpful in selecting a treatment course and, most importantly, it keeps you informed and alert for any cancer development.
At Rosetta Radiology we specialize in diagnostic services, women’s imaging, and radiation oncology. This means that we’re with patients through the whole breast cancer process, from your screening mammogram and diagnosis to the end of your breast cancer treatment. To schedule an appointment with us, please contact us today.