A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but Valley’s Breast Center team is here to guide you through the process. Below, you’ll find information about what you can expect when meeting with your breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.
Before Your Visit
Valley’s team of breast cancer specialists will start collaborating on your individualized treatment plan before you even arrive for your first visit.
Our breast nurse navigator will ensure we have all of your medical records, help schedule your appointments, connect you with cancer support services and more. Our multidisciplinary team will meet to review your history and will work together to recommend a detailed treatment plan. This plan will include options for fertility preservation if that is something you wish to explore.
You will learn a lot about your treatment plan, and it may be challenging to remember all the new information. We recommend bringing the following to your appointments:
- Questions and concerns
- Something to take notes on
- Support person to listen and ask questions
What We’ll Cover in Your Initial Visits
The following questions will be answered at your initial visits with your breast surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist:
- What kind of breast cancer do I have, and what stage is it?
- What is the goal of my treatment?
- What is the current standard of treatment?
- What is the treatment recommendation?
- What will the treatment schedule be?
- What are the potential side effects of the treatment plan?
- Are there any clinical trials that I am eligible for?
- Who is part of my breast cancer treatment team?
- How do I reach my team if I have questions or concerns?
- What will my follow-up be?
Meeting Your Breast Surgeon
During this visit we will:
- Review your medical history and perform a physical exam
- Discuss evidence-based recommendations for treatment
- Finalize your treatment plan
Our providers take special care to allow you unrushed time to understand all the information covered in this discussion. We are here to provide an evidence-based treatment plan based your diagnosis. These options could include lumpectomy or mastectomy using advanced oncoplastic methods.
Your nurse navigator will provide you with an educational binder that will help you organize your next steps. The binder contains important information, phone numbers and space to keep your medical reports.
After this visit, your treatment plan may require additional testing, such as imaging and/or biopsies (to check if the cancer has spread beyond your breast). You may also need additional consultations—such as for genetic counseling or fertility services. If so, our nurse navigator will help you coordinate those appointments.
Meeting Your Breast Medical Oncologist
At the appropriate point in your care, you will meet with a breast medical oncologist to discuss treatment of your cancer.
When you meet with one of our breast medical oncologists, we will cover:
- The symptoms and/or tests that led to your cancer diagnosis
- Any available imaging, biopsy or pathology reports
- Your health history, including medical conditions, surgical history, family history and social history
- Current or past medications, vitamin and supplement use
- Details of your specific case
- A comprehensive physical exam, including a breast exam
- Discuss next steps for chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy treatment
- Any relevant clinical trials that you may be able to participate in
We will use all of this information to determine the best course of therapy for you. Your plan will be individualized for your situation. Your breast medical oncologist can answer questions you have to make sure you understand the next steps.
Meeting Your Radiation Oncologist
An additional part of your treatment plan may include meeting with a radiation oncologist. This treatment is typically used to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
We will cover:
- Details of your specific case and perform a physical exam
- Discuss next steps for radiation therapy treatment
- Discuss your recommended radiation treatment plan, including what you can expect on a daily basis from treatment and the expected outcome
- What happens at a simulation appointment, such as creating a custom mold or measuring for marking where radiation will be administered.
Depending on your treatment plan, you may discuss specialized techniques with your radiation oncologist such as deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) or prone breast radiation.
Your doctor and nurse will be available to discuss potential side effects and help set up your treatment appointments. We’ll work with your schedule to arrange your radiation appointments, which are typically scheduled every weekday in 20-minute increments, for a duration of four to seven weeks.
After Your Visits
We know that breast cancer treatment is complex. Our team is committed to helping you understand your treatment options, answer all of your questions and guide you to needed support.
If you find that you need additional support during treatment, contact your nurse navigator or any member of your care team. They will put you in touch with mental, emotional and financial resources.