Avoid Rushing into a Treatment Decision for Breast Cancer

November 21, 2013 Deanna Attai

We’ve made great strides in understanding the biology and behavior of breast cancer, and there have been many changes and advances in treatment. Today, a woman has more treatment options than ever before. That, in and of itself, can be confusing for many.

Because there can be many treatment options, you shouldn’t rush to make decisions. In fact, with most breast cancers, you have time. Time to gather all information, which may include additional imaging studies or other testing. Time to get more than one opinion. Time to talk with other women with breast cancer – while remembering that each journey is unique. And time to carefully consider all your options.

Your Team Will Offer Information and Resources

A woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer can expect to assemble a team: a breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist (if radiation is necessary). Other important members of the team may include a nurse navigator or breast care coordinator, pathologist, physical/occupational therapist, genetic counselor, social worker, spiritual care provider and psychologist or therapist. In addition, your team may recommend resources for diet, nutrition and lifestyle counseling.

Every Body is Different – Get the Specifics of Your Case

“One size fits all” doesn’t apply to breast cancer treatment recommendations. Breast cancer is not one disease – there are multiple types and every case is different.

The size of your tumor and its biologic behavior (a measure of how aggressive the cancer cells are) as well as whether or not there has been spread into lymph nodes or other areas of the body are essential pieces of information about your specific breast cancer. Gather these specifics before you attempt to review the overwhelming amount of information that’s available. Be sure and get a copy of your pathology report. Once you know the specific details and uniqueness of your own case, reading articles will make much more sense.

Take Time to Make the Best Decision for You

The first few days following a cancer diagnosis are extremely difficult. Taking the time you need to make clear, informed decisions is important. Our goal is always to provide as personalized a treatment recommendation as possible, and to work with you to develop a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with.

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