Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be overwhelming and emotional. A million thoughts run through your mind and it can be difficult to figure out what questions you should ask or what next steps you should take.
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Preparing for your first appointment
- Write down a list of questions
- Bring a relative or friend to be part of the meeting with you and take notes
- Ask for copies of lab results, pathology tests and any other evaluations
- When scheduling your appointment, ask if there is a breast cancer navigator available to you
Five questions to ask your breast cancer specialist
- What kind of breast cancer do I have? Where exactly is it located?
- Is the tumor considered slow-growing or aggressive, invasive or non-invasive? Has it spread? This is determined by a sentinel lymph node biopsy—a surgical procedure that helps detect cancer in the lymph nodes and determines how many are affected.
- What stage is it?
- Stage 0—Also called in situ, this means the cancer has not spread to other tissues.
- Stage I—The cancer has spread beyond the lobe or duct and invaded nearby tissue, but is no larger than two centimeters in size.
- Stage II—The cancer 1) is less than two centimeters but has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary nodes); 2) is between two and five centimeters and may or may not have spread to the axillary nodes; or 3) is larger than five centimeters but has not spread to the axillary nodes.
- Stage III—The tumor is large (more than five centimeters in size) and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and possibly surrounding areas.
- Stage IV—Cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
- CT scan of the chest and abdomen
- MRI scan of the breast, chest, abdomen and pelvis (hip area)
- Bone scan to see if cancer has spread to the bones
- Positron emission tomography–CT (PET/CT)—to help detect distant spread of tumor, especially for locally advanced disease
- Radiation therapy
- Hormonal therapy
- Biological therapy
More questions and answers can be found on Sarah Cannon’s website, the global cancer institute of HCA.