Medical team can lead you through breast cancer options
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 2:41 AM
Dear Doctor K: I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I've found an oncologist, and she's great. Now what can I do?
Dear Reader: I'm glad you've found a great doctor. The choice of treatments depends on the details of your cancer and your values. For example, how important is it to preserve your breast if the doctor says removal of the whole breast has a slightly better prognosis than just removing the cancer? So I hope your doctor will take the time to get to know you and your priorities. You should feel comfortable asking questions and making decisions with her.
There is no "one size fits all" treatment for breast cancer. Your oncologist, or cancer doctor, will be one member of a team of health professionals who will manage your care. Oncologists generally fall into three categories: (1) surgical oncologists, (2) medical oncologists and (3) radiation oncologists. Depending on your treatment, you may work with one, two or all three types. (The medical oncologist, who recommends chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and other treatments, is often the de facto leader of the team.)
Other health-care professionals may participate in your care. For example, mental health services are often provided by oncology social workers or psychologists. Acupuncturists and massage therapists may offer complementary therapies. Consultations with dietitians may be helpful. And so on.
If this seems overwhelming, ask if your hospital has a "navigator" who can help you to steer through the vast array of services provided by your institution.
There is a lot of good advice on successfully navigating through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. You may want to read "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey" by Harvard Medical School's Dr. Julie Silver. Dr. Silver is the perfect person to weave it all together, as she is a rehabilitation expert who is herself a breast cancer survivor.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106