1. Stay Calm - Breast cancer is not an emergency. Most cancers have been developing for 5 years or more before you had your biopsy. Rushing surgery will not improve your survival or avoiding recurrence.
2. Consider a second opinion - We as women will shop around for the best deal in clothes and food, why not your own health. It is your right to seek a second opinion. Be prepared. Obtain copies of your mammogram/ultrasound/MRI films and pathology slides with reports.
3. Insist on a core needle biopsy before surgery. Minimially invasive procedures are the standard of care. 8 out of 10 times a core biopsy will be benign.
4. Ask your surgeon if she or he performs Oncoplastic Breast Surgery - Oncoplastics (on-co-plastic) surgery is a relatively new approach to managing breast cancer, the goal of which is to achieve better cancer control as well as beter cosmetic result. Practiced by only a few breast surgeons nationally,oncoplastic surgey combined advanced cancer removal principles, state of the art breast imaging and plastic surgical techniques to enable removal of the cancer with wider margins.
5. Request Ultrasound of your lymph nodes and biopsy of abnormal nodes before surgery. Lymph node evaluation is a standard part of diagnosing and treating invasive cancer.
6. Request a Breast MRI. Mammograms and ultrasound are the standard tools used for diagnosing breast cancer and planning surgery, however these studies commonly underestimate the size of he cancer, often leading to multipke operations. MRI can greatly aid in the planning of surgery. It can find an unrecognized cancer in the same breast that is positive for cancer missed by mammogram & ultrasound up to 12% of times and find an unrecognized cancer in the other breast 3-5% of times.
7. Ask about acclerated partial breast radiation treatments. Currently most patient who undergo lumpectomy receive daily radiation treatments to their entire breast for 5-7 weeks to lower the risk of cancer coming back. Newer technology now enables radiation treatments to be given in a shorter period as little as 3 weeks, 5 days or even 1 day and only to a portion of the breast to those who qualify.
8. Ask about Clinical trials . Many patients are reluctant to prticipate in clinical trials for fear that they will receive less effective treatment. however, the truth is that participants in clincal trials usually receive better treatment and longer follow up, with reduced recurrences and improved survival.