I have Breast Cancer. Now What?
We’re so sorry that you’ve been diagnosed. Please know that you’re not alone. We’re here to help.
What doctors are involved?
The first thing to understand is who might be on your medical team. There are four types of doctors who work with cancer patients – a surgeon (oncologic breast surgeons are the most specialized), medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and plastic surgeon. You may see all of these specialists immediately, or sequentially. Each physician will assess your diagnosis with you and will help you develop a treatment plan.
Understanding what kind of breast cancer you have.
The second thing to understand is what kind of breast cancer you have. Your medical team, particularly your oncologic surgeon or medical oncologist, will try to gather as much information as possible about
- the type of cancer you have or histology (assessed through core needle biopsy),
- the approximate tumor size (assessed through imaging studies) and
- the tumor location (also assessed through imaging). These tests are called “staging” the cancer, and are important because they will tell you if the cancer is located only in the breast, or if it has traveled through the lymph nodes to other parts of the body (metastasized).
As part of the information gathering stage, your doctors might recommend a sentinel node biopsy to determine if the cancer has spread.
There are many aspects of the disease to consider. Much of this information will be found on the pathology report from your biopsy and any surgery.
This is the information that you need to know about your unique type of cancer:
- Hormone Receptor Status
- HER2 status
- Histologic Grade
- Lymph node Status
- BRCA status
- OncotypeDX test is used on some patients to determine the need for chemotherapy.
A note about fertility
If you are interested in having children someday, you must speak to your doctors about fertility preservation as soon as possible after diagnosis. Some aspects of breast cancer treatment (for example chemotherapy and hormonal therapy) can affect your ability to have children. It’s very important that your medical team knows that you would like information about fertility preservation options and that this is included in any discussion about your treatment plan.