Breast cancer

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“Your mammogram is suspicious for breast cancer.” “Your biopsy was positive for breast cancer.” These are among the most terrifying words a woman can hear from her doctor. Breast cancer elicits so many fears, including those relating to surgery, death, loss of body image, and loss of sexuality. Managing these fears can be facilitated by information and knowledge so that each woman can make the best decisions concerning her care. Optimally, these issues are best discussed with the patient’s doctor on an individual basis. What follows is a review of information on breast cancer intended to aid patients and their families in their navigation through the vast ocean of breast cancer issues.

Types of Breast Cancer

What kind of breast cancer do I have?

Learn about the types of breast cancer.Breast cancer is not a single disease. There are many types of breast cancer, and they may have vastly different implications. Breast cancers range from localized cancers such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive cancers that can rapidly spread (metastasize). In the middle of the spectrum are breast cancers, such as colloid carcinomas and papillary carcinomas, which have a much more favorable outlook (prognosis) than the other more typically invasive breast cancers. Sometimes, noninvasive DCIS is found around invasive breast cancers.

Get the facts on breast cancer »

I may have breast cancer, what questions should I ask my doctor?

If you have received a positive or possible diagnosis of breast cancer, there are a number of questions that you can ask your doctor. The answers you receive to these questions should give you a better understanding of your specific diagnosis and the corresponding treatment. It is usually helpful to write your questions down before you meet with your health-care provider. This gives you the opportunity to ask all your questions in an organized fashion.

Each question is followed by a brief explanation as to why that particular question is important. We will not attempt to answer these questions in detail here because each individual case is just that, individual. This outline is designed to provide a framework to help you and your family make certain that most of the important questions in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment have been addressed. As cancer treatments are constantly evolving, specific recommendations and treatments might change and you should always confer with your treatment team regarding any questions. You obviously should add your own questions and concerns to these when you have a discussion with your doctor.

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