A breast cancer diagnosis can trigger a host of immediate questions and concerns. However, knowing the right questions to ask can make all the difference when beginning treatment said Dr. Lyda E. Rojas Carroll, director of Breast Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical.
Below, she shared five questions to consider when newly-diagnosed:
What is the stage and type of cancer?
"This can be answered by testing a tissue sample, commonly known as biopsy, which can be done using either ultrasound mammogram or an MRI," said Rojas Carroll. "This radiographic testing, along with a breast exam, can tell you the size of the tumor and if lymph nodes look or feel abnormal." Most biopsies will reveal the type of cancer and cell sensitivity, and very rarely is an open surgical biopsy necessary.
What is your family history?
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has developed criteria recommending who should undergo genetic testing. This can help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. "This testing may help decide what surgery is best for you," said Rojas Carroll.
Will you need further testing?
"If your breast is very dense or you have been diagnosed with invasive lobular cancer, an MRI of the breast may help plan your surgery," said Rojas Carroll.
Is there a plastic surgeon available to help in reconstruction?
Once surgery has been completed, a plastic surgeon can help ensure a quick return to normal. "Whether you decide on a lumpectomy or mastectomy, the plastic surgeon can help you obtain the best cosmetic outcome," said Rojas Carroll.
Will I need to see a medical oncologist?
"Most times, a medical oncologist appointment occurs after surgery," said Rojas Carroll. "However, there are instances were chemotherapy or anti-endocrine therapy can be given first, which is called neoadjuvant treatment."
For newly-diagnosed patients, national guidelines can help make treatment decisions easier. Consulting a breast cancer team comprised of a breast surgeon, radiologist, pathologist, medical oncologist, plastic surgeon and radiation oncologists is an important first step.
To learn more about the breast cancer services available at CareMount Medical, click here.