What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

This post is sponsored by Genentech. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer? If you haven’t heard this stat before, it’s somewhat jaw-dropping.

I was floored the first time I heard the statistic that 1 in 8 women would be diagnosed by breast
cancer at some point in their lifetime. It hit me hard as realized that someday more and more
friends and family in my circle would certainly be impacted. Given these stats and the likelihood
of all of us someday being impacted by breast cancer ourselves or through the diagnosis of a
loved one it makes sense to learn more about Breast Cancer.

Did you know that not every type of breast cancer is the same???

The focus on “pink” to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, often leads people to perceive
breast cancer as one disease, but there are actually many different types of breast cancer.

Each type of breast cancer often comes with it’s own protocols and treatment plans specifically
based on the type. Tumor size, stage, status and subtype are known as the 4 S’s that define
Breast Cancer Type.

So how can you be better prepared if you or a loved one are diagnosed??

Knowing what questions to ask a doctor when diagnosed with breast cancer and attending appointments with a patient is an important way you can support a loved one going through a recent diagnosis. Understanding
the type of breast cancer is also valuable and can help you direct your questions to the doctor
and nursing staff. The more you know, the more you can help!

What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Visit NotOneType.org to learn more. 

What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Given the statistics it’s likely you, a friend or family member will face a breast cancer diagnosis
so it’s important we all understand more about this devastating disease.

My mother in law battled breast cancer for over 20 years and ultimately passed away from the
disease. My best friend Allison was diagnosed 3 years ago at age 40 and thankfully is a
survivor. I was crushed by the news of my best friend’s diagnosis after having recently watched
my Mother in Law battle Breast Cancer, but Allison faced her diagnosis with courage and
optimism. As a young energetic Mom who had also seen her own mother battle breast cancer,
Allison went into her doctor appointments and treatment plan with a background knowledge
about Breast Cancer “subtypes” and a team of knowledgeable advocates to help her make the
best decisions and better understand her treatment options.

As a friend, it’s wonderful and important to cook meals, send flowers, mail notes of
encouragement, and help loved ones juggle their families during the stress of a cancer
diagnosis.

Equally important, asking questions and discussing treatment options with a friend is one of the ways I’ve been able to better support my loved ones navigate their breast cancer journey too.

If you or a loved one are diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to be prepared with questions for your doctor. Having questions for your cancer care team will help you better understand the overwhelming journey of a breast cancer diagnosis and the best treatments available specific to your type of breast cancer. The more informed you are, you’ll be a more engaged patient or supporter.

Remember, Breast Cancer is not just ONE TYPE. There many types of breast cancer and treatment plans are very specific to each type and stage of Breast Cancer. Luckily, with all the research and studies that have been done on breast cancer, targeted treatment plans exist that are best for each type. 

Better understanding what type of breast cancer you have is very important. 

What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Here’s a quick list of questions to ask your doctor if you or a loved one are diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Bring your questions and a notebook so you are able to jot down notes. Referring to your notes later, will let you absorb the information at your own pace and discuss with family and friends. 

What Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

About the Cancer

  • How large is the tumor? 
  • Has the cancer spread to any lymph nodes? 
  • What is the Stage? 
  • What is the HER2 status? (Hormone Receptor Status) 
  • Is this cancer at a high risk of returning or spreading? 
  • Are there any diagnostic tests appropriate for my tumor? 

About Treatment Options

  • Is surgery necessary? If so, is other treatment necessary before or after surgery?
  • Why do you recommend this particular treatment plan? Are there other treatment options to consider?
  • Can you explain what these medicines do to the cancer in the body?
  • What are the possible side effects of treatment?
  • Are there clinical trials available? If so, is my cancer a fit? 

More Questions: 

  • Can I have a copy of my pathology report and testing information? 
  • Should I get a second opinion? 
  • Should I think about genetic testing? 
  • If I’m worried about costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me navigate this process? 
  • How can I preserve my fertility? 

The “Not One Type” campaign is brought to you by Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Genentech, encouraging women and their loved ones to take a closer look at breast cancer and have more meaningful conversations with their healthcare team. Learn more at www.notonetype.org.



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