Preparing for Your Appointment
- Create a binder to take with you on your doctor visits.
- Write down any symptoms you are experiencing. Include all of them, even those that may seem unrelated to the visit.
- Make note of key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Write down your family history of cancer. Include their relation to you, type of cancer, age at diagnosis, and whether each person survived.
- List all medications you are currently taking, including vitamins and supplements.
- Include all records that relate to your diagnosis and treatment.
- Bring someone with you to take notes. There will be a lot of information coming at you, and it will be hard to absorb everything you hear.
- Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
We’ve assembled an initial list of questions from our members that you may want to ask your doctor as you begin your breast cancer treatment process. Additional, unedited questions can be found at the end of this section.
This list is by no means a complete compilation of questions to ask. Please include any questions and concerns you may have that are not listed. Your doctor might not have all the answers immediately, but don’t be afraid to ask and follow up. The more informed you are as a patient, the more you can actively and confidently participate in your care decisions.
- What type of breast cancer do I have?
- How big is my tumor?
- Can you explain my pathology report to me? Can I have a copy for my records? (Be sure to include in binder.)
- What is my estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status? What is my HER2 status?
- Do you know the stage of my cancer yet, and what does that mean?
- Will I need surgery? What type of surgery do you recommend and why?
- Can you explain a sentinel node biopsy? Will I have this done?
- Will I need chemotherapy? How do we decide?
- Will I need radiation?
- How quickly do I need to make a decision about my cancer treatment?
- What type of doctors should I see and what do they do? Which type of doctor should I see first?
- Can you schedule me with a genetic counselor to get BRCA tested?
- What are the side effects of each treatment option?
- Based on my diagnosis and genetic profile, what is the chance that cancer will return to my breasts? How do my treatment options affect these chances? If I have a choice of lumpectomy or mastectomy, how does that decision affect my chances of in breast recurrence?
- If I am worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns? Who can help me understand what aspects of my care are covered by my insurance?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material I can take with me?
- What medications and supplements should I stop taking?
- Should I stop taking hormone replacement therapy?
- Should I stop taking birth control pills?
- What is metastatic breast cancer and how does that possibility impact my decision making?
- If we went to 10 doctors, would they tell us the same thing? If not, what else might they recommend and why?
Additional questions to take to your appointment: