HealthONE - October 31, 2018

So many thoughts can run through your mind once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It can be very emotional and overwhelm you. Start by making a simple list of questions that you should ask your healthcare professionals, to include what your next steps are.

Getting prepared for your first appointment since being diagnosed.

  1. Make a simple list of questions
  2. Take a spouse/significant other, family member or a friend with you to the meeting
  3. Inquire about obtaining copies of the lab results, pathology tests, and any other tests
  4. See if there is a breast cancer navigator available for you when scheduling an appointment

Here are 5 questions that you should ask your breast cancer specialist

  1. Specifically, what type of cancer do you have, and exactly where is it located?
  2. Is the tumor thought to be aggressive or slow-growing? Is it invasive or non-invasive? Is it spreading? This can be determined by doing a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which is a surgical procedure to detect the cancer that are in the lymph nodes. The biopsy will be able to show just how many are affected.
  3. What stage is the breast cancer in?
    • Stage 0: This is also called “in situ,” which indicates that the cancer has not yet spread to other tissues.
    • Stage I: The cancer has spread beyond the lobe or duct and has begun to invade tissue nearby, but the cancer is not larger then 2 centimeters.
    • Stage II: The cancer (1) is less than 2 centimeters, but has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (called auxiliary nodes); (2) is between 2 and 5 centimeters and might or might not have spread to the auxiliary nodes; or (3) is bigger than 5 centimeters, but it has not spread into the auxiliary nodes.
    • Stage III: The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters, and the cancer has already began to spread into the lymph nodes, and potentially surrounding areas.
    • Stage IV: The cancer has spread past the breast and the lymph nodes and is into other parts of the body.
  4. What additional testing may be done?
    • MRI scan of the breast, chest, abdomen and pelvis areas
    • CT scan of the abdomen and chest areas
    • Positron emission tomography – CT (PET/CT) to assist in detecting the distant spread of the tumor, especially for a locally advanced disease
    • Bone scan to indicate if the cancer has spread into the bones
  5. What kind of treatment options are available?
    • Radiation therapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery
    • Biological therapy
    • Hormonal therapy

HealthONE’s network of hospitals offers the most advanced cancer treatment options and some of the most experienced oncologists in the Denver area. We offer multiple locations throughout the Denver area, which allows our oncologists and radiologists to provide Denver’s community with quality cancer care, no matter where you live. Our experienced oncologists treat more cancer patients than any other provider in a seven-state region. Find additional information