North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

What should you ask when diagnosed with breast cancer


Millions of women in the country have heard those dreaded words from their doctor, “You have breast cancer.”

One in eight women will be diagnosed with this often-deadly disease but with early detection the chances of survival go up immensely.

If you are one of those who have to face those words and a future of cancer treatments, you will most likely have dozens of questions going through your mind.

The American Cancer Society suggests that you have a frank discussion with your doctor before starting any type of treatment and they have even provided questions for you to ask.

“Your American Cancer Society can give you general information about this disease and its treatment, but your doctor is the best source of information about your situation.

It’s important for you to be able to talk frankly and openly with your cancer care team,” they said on their website.

Of course, you will probably come up with a few of your own and these questions may help you determined just what you need to ask your doctor.

Here are the questions ACS suggests you start with:

1. Exactly what type of breast cancer do I have?

2. How do I get a copy of my pathology report?

3. Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other organs?

4. What’s the cancer’s stage? What does that mean?

5. How does this affect my treatment options and long-term outcome (prognosis)?

6. What are my chances of survival, based on my cancer as you see it?

7. How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?

8. Will I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?

9. What are my treatment choices?

10. What treatment do you recommend and why?

11. What’s the goal of my treatment?

12. Should I think about genetic testing?

13. Should I get a second opinion? How do I do that?

14. Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?

I know that when I have any type of medical dilemma I ask a lot of questions. I want to be well-informed ad I want my doctor to know that I am part of my own treatment. This is my body and I plan to make the decisions concerning it myself, with the help of my family.

Remember that your doctor works for you. He is there to help you get better and to share his knowledge with you. Use him and his expertise. Make sure you are comfortable with your doctor and that he is willing to talk to you about all of your concerns.

For more information on breast cancer please contact your American Cancer Society toll free at 1- 800-227-2345 or online at


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