Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and leave you with many questions. To help you prepare for your first appointment with an oncologist, it's important to understand what to expect. At the initial surgical consultation, the surgeon will review your medical history, recent pathology, and prognostic factors (if available), perform a breast exam, and discuss the different surgical options available. During your visit, the oncologist will explain more about the type and exact location of the cancer, review your treatment options, and share important details that may be difficult to remember.
To ensure you capture everything, it's a good idea to bring a notebook to keep track of information such as how you are feeling, what medications or supplements you are taking, and any questions or remarks that occur between appointments. Your oncology team will use your HER2 status and hormone receptors to determine the type of breast cancer and the type of treatment you can receive. Treatments will be based on a variety of factors, including the type, stage of breast cancer, and age. The results of the biopsy and images taken will allow the oncologist to determine the extent of the breast cancer.
There are several types of treatment options for
breast cancer, all of which the cancer care team will discuss with you. These may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. Clinical trials may also be an option for some patients. Surgery allows the surgeon to determine how advanced the breast cancer is and to remove cancerous tissues to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Hormone therapy for breast cancer, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, can help prevent the cancer from returning. Breast cancer stages are usually expressed as a number on a scale from 0 to IV, where stage 0 represents contained and non-invasive cancers and stage IV represents cancers that have spread.Your care will be adapted to your needs, taking into account aspects such as your type of cancer and your health status, as well as your own goals and preferences. Knowing what to expect at your first appointment can help you feel more prepared and in control of your care.