If you have breast cancer, it helps to learn all you can about your disease, including what your treatment options are. This will allow you to take an active part in decisions about your medical care. Discuss your choices with your health care providers and loved ones. Your health care providers are the best people to answer your questions about treatment. Make sure you ask how the treatment and its side effects will change your daily life, and how you will look and feel after treatment.
Before beginning treatment, you may want to ask if there are any clinical trials you should consider. These trials test new methods for treating cancer.
At first, the information you get about treatment options may seem overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to make a list of their questions before seeing their health care provider. To make it easier to remember what he or she says, you may want to take notes or ask if you can record the conversation. It may also help to have a family member or friend with you to take part in the discussion, take notes, or just listen.
Use the list of questions below as a starting place, and be sure to write down any others that come to mind:
What treatment do you think is best for me?
What is the success rate of this particular treatment for my type and stage of breast cancer?
How much will treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it? How much will I have to pay for treatment?
Can you recommend another doctor who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?
Will my treatment affect my ability to get pregnant or give birth?
Are there any long-term or permanent side effects I should know about?
Is breast-conserving surgery an option for me?
Will my lymph nodes be removed? How many? Why?
Will I need to know how to take care of my incision when I get home?
If I decide to have reconstructive surgery, how and when can that be done? Can you suggest a plastic surgeon?
What side effects can I expect to have?
How long will the side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
What is the length of the treatment period? When will it start?
How long will each treatment take?
How will we know if the treatment is working?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
Who is involved in giving me the treatment?
Does someone need to be with me during the treatment?
How will I feel after the treatment?
Where will the scars be? What will they look like?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Should I change my diet? What foods can’t I eat?
Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?