Setting Up a Treatment Plan for Breast Cancer
Once the diagnosis, stage and grade of the breast cancer have been accurately defined, a treatment plan can be established from the following options: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonotherapy. In many cases, a combination of these techniques is used.
A medical team made up of one or more of the following medical specialists takes charge of the person affected by breast cancer:
- medical oncologists, experts in cancer and chemotherapy;
- surgical oncologists, perform surgery to remove cancerous tumours and also prescribe chemotherapy in Quebec;
- radiation oncologists, specialists in the treatment of cancer with radiation (radiotherapy).
The medical team may also include an oncology pivot nurse, and possibly other experts such as a dietician, a social worker, a psychologist, etc., who are all trained to assist breast cancer patients.
Your Oncology Pivot Nurse: An Invaluable Resource
The oncology pivot nurse can be more than just a simple coordinator between the patient and the other members of the medical team. For some patients, she is a confidante or a guide who assists them in facing the new, troubling, and complex situation of battling cancer.
Therefore, if you or one of your loved ones is being treated for breast cancer, do not hesitate to confide in your oncology pivot nurse. Let her know how you feel, and ask questions. Along with your doctors, she can tell you what to expect, help you prepare for it, and also refer you to other members of the medical team when necessary. Don’t forget that you can contact our support line at any time.
Before your doctor’s appointment, you can prepare by making a list/bring a list of questions you wish to ask. The doctor will with no doubt have anticipated most of your questions but the list will ensure you won’t forget any. You can also ask one of your loved ones to come along to the appointment for moral support. The better informed you are about your condition and your treatment options, the more benefits you’ll be able to derive from the treatment.
Because breast cancer is such a complex disease, this kind of teamwork is definitely required. Each treatment has its strengths and limitations, advantages and drawbacks such as unpleasant or disabling side effects that differ from patient to patient. For this reason, the medical team discusses the details of the potential treatments with their patients. Often the patient is offered several options to choose from, especially when it comes to surgery.
In fact, the state of health, the progression of the cancer, as well as the patient’s preferences, fears and goals are taken into consideration when establishing a treatment plan based on the following elements:
- the stage of the diagnosed breast cancer;
- whether the woman is menopausal or not;
- the status of the hormone receptors of the breast cancer to be treated;
- the analysis of the HER2 gene status;
- the risk of relapse, that is, of a new cancer, in cases of early breast cancer;
- the patient’s overall state of health;
- choices that the woman undergoing treatment will make regarding treatment options.