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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

  1. the type of cancer you have or histology (assessed through core needle biopsy),
  2. the approximate tumour size (assessed through imaging studies) and
  3. the tumour 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 travelled 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
  • Histology
  • 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.

next steps:

Welcome to the BTC Treatment Decision ToolHave you or someone you love recently received a diagnosis of breast cancer?

Whether you received a diagnosis yesterday or three months ago, you are likely dealing with an upheaval in your life as you’ve known it. Perhaps you have also started the process of meeting with your doctors to discuss what treatment options are available, and which therapies (or combination of therapies) will be the best for you. It is a lot of information to sort through and make sense of.

So we’re here to help.

The team at Be the Choice are a diverse group of women and men who have had experiences with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Some of us have undergone treatment for breast cancer, some of us have provided care for a loved one who has been through treatment, and some of us are physicians and other health care professionals who provide treatment to breast cancer patients.

United in our concern that all people who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer should have access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment information in a comfortable and user-friendly format, we designed this interactive treatment decision tool.

How to use:

Your diagnosis of breast cancer has come with an assessment of your unique clinical and hormonal characteristics. These should be carefully discussed with your medical team and deliberated carefully in advance of any treatment decisions.

This tool will enable you to get to know the “big picture” as well as the “individual picture” behind any breast cancer treatment decision, and to become an active participant in determining your own treatment process. You are the ultimate decision-maker in this process. We hope that you will use the information on this website to inform and empower yourself.

What this tool is not designed to do is deliver individual treatment recommendations. It should be used as a way to get a sense of the full range of treatments available to you as well as what your own treatment plan might look like given your unique profile.