If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have met a Breast Surgeon. You may be dealing with anxiety, uncertainty, and wondering about next steps. You may be told you need to have surgery to cut it out and think that would be the end, only to learn that you have to meet a Medical Oncologist and Radiation Oncologist. Also, you may have to meet a Genetic counselor and Plastic surgeon. You may be feeling quite overwhelmed.

Take a deep breath. Meeting different people doesn’t mean it is more serious.  It takes a large team to give you the best chance of cure. Also, we want to make sure you have a great life afterwards.

Here are some people you may meet:

Your doctors:

  • The Breast Surgeon. This doctor will discuss how to cut out the breast cancer. The surgeon may recommend other tests such as breast MRI or ultrasound.  He/she may recommend more biopsies.
  • The Plastic Surgeon. This doctor helps to reconstruct the breast. You may need his/her help if you are having your entire breast removed (mastectomy), or if removing part of one breast creates asymmetry.
  • The Medical Oncologist. This doctor specializes in medications used to treat cancer, which may range from hormone blocking pills, to intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. You can expect him/her to answer questions about what chemotherapy drugs you should get exactly, how they will be administered, as well as possible short- and long-term side effects.
  • The Radiation Oncologist. This doctor specializes in giving radiation to treat cancer. You can expect to discuss different kinds of radiation, which may be best for you, the way it will be administered, and expected side effects.
  • The Fertility Expert. If you are to receive chemotherapy during your childbearing years, you may be at risk for loosing fertility.  A fertility expert will discuss options for preserving your fertility. Examples may include suppressing your ovaries during chemotherapy with an injected medication, or harvesting your eggs before chemotherapy starts.

You may have to meet other professionals too. Please be sure to review the next article in this series.  If you found this helpful, please do share freely with your friends.