Questions to Ask Your Doctor
When you are first diagnosed with breast cancer remember to have a conversation with your doctor about breast cancer recurrence diagnostic testing to determine your risk of recurrence before your treatment starts. Depending on the outcome of the test, you may decide on different treatment options.
Here are a few questions regarding breast cancer recurrence diagnostic testing to ask your surgeon when you go for a biopsy to determine if you have breast cancer:
- How can I determine if I am at high risk for breast cancer recurrence?
- What are my options for testing?
- How can I use diagnostic testing to better personalize my treatment?
- If I’m not sure I want to have chemotherapy, how can I best determine the right treatment for me?
In addition to the questions above, here are other questions that you may want to ask your doctor at different stages of your diagnosis and treatment.
- What type of biopsy will I have? Why?
- Will the lymph nodes be sampled?
- Will a sentinel node biopsy be done? What is the experience of the surgeon, radiologist and pathologist in doing this procedure?
- How reliable is a needle biopsy?
- Will estrogen and progesterone receptor tests be done? HER2? Others?
- How often does the radiologist or surgeon perform the type of biopsy I'll be having? Do they specialize in breast cancer?
- How long will the biopsy take?
- Will I be awake during the biopsy? Can it be done on an outpatient basis?
- How long will it be between my biopsy and if surgery is needed?
- If I have a needle biopsy, who will evaluate the samples? How much experience does that person have with breast cancer? Will a cytopathologist be needed?
- When will I get the pathology results?
- Where and will there be a biopsy scar?
- Are there any after effects of the biopsy? If so, what are they?
- What medications should I avoid before the biopsy and for how long? When can I resume my usual medications?
- When will I be able to return to my normal routine?
- Will the tissue removed during my biopsy be X-rayed to make sure that all of the suspicious tissue was removed?
- Will my tumor be saved? Where will it be stored? For how long? How can I/ future providers/clinical trials I might join access it in the future?
- Where is my breast cancer?
- Can I have a copy of my pathology report?
- Can you explain my pathology report to me?
- Is my breast cancer hormone receptor positive or HER2 positive? What does this mean for me?
- Can you write down what you have told me so that I can read it again later?
- If cancer is found, who will talk with me about my treatment options? When must I make a decision on my treatment choices?
- Why are you recommending radiation therapy for me?
- How will radiation therapy affect my risk of having a recurrence (local and distant)? Please explain the differences to me.
- How long will each treatment take? How many treatment sessions will I have?
- Can I come alone, or should a friend or relative come with me?
- What clothes should I wear to the therapy sessions?
- Can I wear a bra during the course of treatment?
- What side effects should I expect? How long might they last? What symptoms need medical care?
- Who do I call/contact if I have problems or questions about my treatment? What about on holidays or during the weekend?
- What are the long-term risks of this treatment?
- What precautions should I take during treatment?
- What lotion, soaps, aloe vera or other skincare products should I use or avoid?
- What problems should I report to you right away?
- Can I continue normal activities? Are there any activities I should avoid?
- Where can I find a support group for people living with breast cancer (or cancer in general)?
- Should I continue to see my regular physician or gynecologist during my treatment?
- How often will I have check-ups and follow-up tests after treatment ends? Which health care provider will manage my care after treatment?
- Will insurance cover my treatment?
- What do I need to consider before treatment begins if I would like to have a child after I have been treated for breast cancer?
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