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You have breast cancer. Now what?

You have breast cancer. Now what?

“You have breast cancer.”

More than 230,000 women are expected to hear those words this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Women also have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in some form during their lifetime.

After diagnosis, the quality of life for every cancer patient and survivor is affected in some way – socially, psychologically, physically and/or spiritually.

A breast cancer diagnosis is scary, but it’s important for women to understand there are now more treatment and care options than ever before. When it comes to beating breast cancer, education is key.

Dr. Rachel Baer, a surgeon and medical director at The Center for Breast Care at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., explains five things every woman should know.

Learn about your diagnosis. Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer is very difficult to hear, but learning about the specifics of your cancer goes a long way to demystifying breast cancer, and allows you to move forward with an organized treatment plan for a long-term cure while keeping safety in mind.

Your breast surgeon or oncologist will carefully review your imaging studies and detailed pathology report to fully define the cancer. Nurse navigators are also available with their time and extra resources so that you fully understand the nature of the disease you are facing.

Assemble your support team. Your spouse, friends, parents and family members are all people you know, love, trust and need on this journey.

The support team at your treatment facility will join with the people in your life to help keep you informed and comfortable as you move through diagnosis and treatment.

Modern treatment of breast cancer is very successful, but the amount of information shared can be daunting. The support team at your hospital will make sure that you and your loved ones always fully understand the treatment choices, and that all your questions are answered.

Consider your long-term treatment plan. Today, breast cancer is treated commonly as a local and systemic disease. You will have treatment choices to make about breast surgery, including lumpectomy and radiation for breast conservation, or possibly mastectomy with advanced reconstruction techniques.

Long-term protection from recurrence may require a range of treatments that could include hormone blockade and frequently, traditional chemotherapy.

Once your diagnostic testing is complete and the type and extent of cancer is defined, a well-defined treatment plan will be given.

Talk to survivors. So many breast cancer survivors are amazing and understand the journey you will undertake and can offer you practical advice and emotional support.

Choose an accredited breast center. Look for an accredited facility with a dedicated team committed to your care and state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments.

To learn more about breast health, visit Stories of the Girls.

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About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.