Breast Cancer Awareness Month
What to Expect After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Writer / Dr. Betty Fan, breast surgeon at IU Health West Hospital
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes in the United States. With the advancement of treatment and technology, the prognosis for breast cancer patients has improved over time, but a breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and many women are left wondering what’s next.
You will have a team of experts during your treatment.
After a breast cancer diagnosis, your provider will meet with you to discuss a treatment plan. A team of experts will be assigned to provide care for you during the treatment process. The team may consist of an oncology nurse navigator, a breast surgeon, your primary care provider, and any other medical professionals involved in your treatment and care process.
You will have a lot of questions.
After hearing your diagnosis, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or confused by all the information. Take some time to process the information, and as questions come to mind, write them down to ask during your next visit. Asking questions is important for understanding your diagnosis.
You will discuss treatment options.
Every woman’s breast cancer is different. If you’re being treated with surgery, your breast surgeon will review your medical records and imaging results, and then discuss your treatment options with you to help identify the best treatment plan. Depending on your specific breast cancer, treatment could include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or endocrine therapy. Your treatment plan will be individualized based on the results of your specific breast cancer, and your personal preferences.
You’ll want support.
It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one going through this journey. Joining an in-person or virtual support group can help you cope with your new cancer diagnosis.
Follow up visits with your doctor.
Follow up visits with your breast surgeon are necessary and vital after finishing your treatment. During these visits, your physician will check to see if there are any signs of cancer recurrence, treat any side effects, and observe your overall health. As you continue to be cancer-free, your follow up appointments will be scheduled less often.