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Questions for Your Provider - Surgery

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Questions to ask your doctor before breast surgery
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Before surgery

  • Will you do a sentinel node biopsy?
  • Will I need to have more lymph nodes removed? How will that decision be made?
  • If my sentinel lymph nodes are positive, will I need an axillary dissection?
  • Can I have a lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery) plus radiation therapy?
  • Will chemotherapy, targeted therapy and/or hormone therapy before surgery improve my chances of being able to have a lumpectomy?
  • If I have lumpectomy, when will I meet with a radiation oncologist to discuss radiation therapy?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Will I need someone to help me when I return home from the hospital?
  • How should I expect to feel after the surgery?
  • What limits will I have on my normal activities?
  • Where will the surgical scar(s) be?
  • Will I have any numbness after the surgery?
  • Will I have a surgical drain in place when I go home? If so, how will I care for it? When will it be removed?
  • What side effects might I expect after surgery? What problems should I report to you right away?
  • How does the removal of lymph nodes affect my chances of getting lymphedema?
  • What are the long-term risks of problems or side effects from surgery?
  • When should I return for follow-up?
  • Who will discuss the findings of my final pathology report with me? Can I get a copy of the report for my records?
  • Will I need other treatments? If so, which one(s)? How long after surgery will I begin the other treatment(s)? Who will coordinate my care?
  • How does my surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) affect my risk of having a breast cancer recurrence, metastasis or a new breast cancer? Please explain the differences to me.
  • Tell me about breast reconstruction. If I decide I want reconstruction, when can I have it (at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date)? What are the risks? What about prosthesis options? Who else should I see to discuss and plan for reconstruction or prosthesis?
  • What do I need to consider before treatment begins if I would like to have a child after I have been treated for breast cancer?
  • Will my tumor be saved? Where will it be stored? For how long? How can it be accessed in the future? To learn more about breast pathology practices, read our report
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Questions to ask your doctor after breast surgery
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After surgery

  • Were there cancer cells in my tumor margins? Do I need more surgery?
  • When will I be able to get back to my normal routine? When can I go back to work? (Ask about specific jobs or activities you do.)
  • Are there any precautions I should take? Are there any activities I should avoid? When can I start exercising again? Are there any exercises I should avoid? Are there special exercises I should be doing? Which ones? When should I start?
  • How long should I do them? Should I see a physical therapist?
  • What problems should I report to you right away?
  • Where can I find a support group for people living with breast cancer (or cancer in general)?
  • Do I need to meet with a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist? If not, why not?
  • Should I continue to see my regular physician and gynecologist during my treatment?
  • How often will I have check-ups and follow-up tests after treatment ends?
  • Will a follow-up care plan be prepared for me?
  • Which health care provider is in charge of my follow-up care?
  • What do I need to consider before other treatments begin if I would like to have a child after I have been treated for breast cancer?
  • Will my tumor be saved? Where will it be stored? For how long? How can it be accessed in the future? To learn more about breast pathology practices, read our report.

Learn more about talking to your health care provider. 

Updated 04/29/14

 

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Surgery 

 

  Lumpectomy 

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Lumpectomy – the Surgical Procedure  

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Mastectomy 

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Mastectomy - The Surgical Procedure  

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Deciding Between Mastectomy and Lumpectomy Plus Radiation Therapy  

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Breast Reconstruction  

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